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Football

Extra time.. but still nil-nil


What else you can call this than a step-motherly attitude? (Well, I didn’t mean all step mothers in fact). I’m talking about the pathetic way of handling the game of football by the federation.

As many of you know,  Nehru Cup was kicked off  a few days back. The interesting fact is the kind of facilities provided for this international tournament.  The negligence and  contempt was all over.  substandard training grounds and other facilities were the most obvious disregards but the root cause lies elsewhere. It was tough to watch players like Baichung Butia and Pradeep carrying goal posts and set them up for the training, that too in a college ground  in Delhi.  Can you imagine Sachin Tendulkar rolling the pitch or marking the boundary line before training? The saddest of all these is that this is an international tournament happening in the National Capital !!

It is a well known fact that the fair share of public and media attention which should have focused on football has been hijacked by cricket for a long time. Whatever be the reason, this is pure injustice. One can argue that we are not good in football as we are (?) in cricket.

Now the question is: on what scale you measure the good and bad aspects?  The bitter truth is that revenue is the hero. That makes cricket different from football. It’s the sole differentiator which play behind the above mentioned disregards and humiliation.

It’s not a new information for you and me that all other sports/games are eclipsed by the money and fame  involved in cricket. It’s under this shadow the games like Hockey, which we were too good once upon a time,  lives or, to put it better, struggling to live.

So what can be done?

Pull out the whole money and focus from cricket and pour it on football?
No..
Is there any short cut solution?
Of course NO.. like many other issues.

But still there are many things which the government /federation can possibly do.

  1. Take the game seriously and organize such events with better mindset.
  2. Increase the awareness of the game among students. How many inter-school football tournaments happen in our country barring those conducted in major cities and those among BIG schools?
  3. A new national football league format, probably in the line of IPL with lesser teams in the first division.
  4. Pump in more money.. and take it from me the Rs 25 Cr which BCCI ‘donated’ is not sufficient.

Many other steps can be taken in order to improve the quality of the game as well. It’s hard to believe if the government open its palms saying no money. It’s priority what matters here and not money. How do you prioritize your to-do list – is the question of the moment.

I wish I shouldn’t have faced that question from that friend of mine 3 years back. June 9 2006, the first day of World Cup football held in Germany, we went to office wearing Argentina jerseys. A colleague – who claims himself to be a cricketer – asked me: “Is there any tournament going on?”. I replied, “Yes”.

“Where is it?”

“Germany”

“What?”

“Yep, World cup football”

Seemingly not interested he went back saying “I thought some internal cricket match..   “

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