Monday, June 21, 2010

The foot, the ball, the goal, and India

Indian sports is run by politicians and coaches who believe that the only victory in sport is their election or selection for a paycheck. The unstated goal, for example, of football teams and everyone associated with their upkeep and sleep is to feed all involved, with minimal activity. The day India plays in the World Cup will be the day after two decade long effort to: a) spend money for what it is intended for, b) restrict the role of the off-the-field players, for example, the politicians who are in business of sport federations must self-annihilate or get the boot they deserve (and not another golden boot) c) clear fields of pebbles, rocks, garbage, dogs, cows, peddlers, unnamed/undocumented encroachments d) provide payment and respect for performers in the game and off the field. Indian cricket, with all its grandiose ailments has shown us, that it is possible to get Indians excited about a sport, we love our sporting heroes more than Bollywood heroes as long as they don't flop too often on the ground (and off it), there is no dearth of pockets to foot the bill, and crowds will come if they know that skill will be on display and entertainment will be on menu that day.

I think the following people and organizations must do their bit to inspire us into playing football and other worldly sports: 1) Swami Ramdev, whose following is large. Yoga is great, but some antics on a football field or in a track and field camp, will only help the general health and stamina of his followers (and their sons and daughters). 2) Schoolteachers and parents, who can provide avenues in sports for teaching their wards discipline, alertness, activity, self-worth and teamwork; education without physical labor is no education. 3) Organizations like RSS and Ramlila committees which have large following, Madrassas, Churches, Temple committees can take up voluntary role in organizing sporting and other events to promote the values they wish to propagate only through loudspeakers. At least put teams together to clean out the garbage dumps, especially from the grounds deemed holy and places deemed worthy of pilgrimage. 4) BCCI and IPL, for they have the money, infrastructure and large number of people required to adopt two sports and run "voluntary but disciplined" initiatives for bringing India to a competitive level in them. I recommend Hockey and Football, and if BCCI can pitch in 1% of its profits for Hockey, 1% for Football, and 2% of the time officials spend in backbiting and backscratching, we will be in great shape for the 2030 world cup!

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