Archive for January, 2014

A Utopian Scenaria

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Cricket

Out of curiosity, I googled “Cricket in China”, this is, of course a peculiar search, given the fact that cricket is never synonymous with China and evident from the levels of participation by the most populous country. But for a country never to have participated in any major cricketing events, and the highest level of cricket in the country, equivalent to a Division 5 league, the results were rather startling. ESPNCricinfo, the encyclopedia of cricket, had 30 odd articles on cricket in China, a detailed Wikipedia article about China National Cricket Team and their astonishing ambitions, a BBC article about Cricket in China, and to top it all, a ChinaCricket website dedicated solely to all the activities related to cricket in China! That’s on par, if not better, than most of the top ranked associate nations and almost equal to the lower ranked full member nations.

China-Team2012

Statistics say that every sixth person in the world is a Chinese, which also follows suit for an Indian as well. Hence deducing from the statistics, there is a Chinese and an Indian in every six member group. Now imagine if the world’s most populous country were to play the game with the the country second in line in that very list, and if that game were to be telecast?. Yeah move over football, you are nowhere close to being the most watched sport in the world. Imagine it, as almost half the world’s population would be watching this game and these also include the passionate cricket organisms living everywhere else.

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As Ashis Nandy once said, “Cricket is an Indian game, accidentally discovered by the British”, its no secret, that in India cricket is a religion and cricketers are ‘Demigods’. Although I have no idea, when China would be able to gain test status, or for that matter, when they would have a decent fan following, but I’d definitely like to see how it would be in those times, when the BCCI would have a worthy competitor, both on and off the field, who knows, there might be a Han Premier League(The Chinese usually refer to themselves as the children of the ‘Han’, hence the name H.P.L.), with Indians captaining the sides, or an even better, how about having another Sachin Tendulkar Stand in one of their stadiums!

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Yeah, I know, none of them are nowhere close to becoming a reality, but just like the many perfect scenario’s that’s always running in our minds(like the beautiful girl in office coming over and talking to me), this is also one of the many perfect scenarios that I wish could come true, at least before I get Alzheimer!

Football in India

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Football

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For a country playing football from the time Queen Victoria became the Empress of India, and with close to a billion people following the game, 154th rank is a reason we cannot fathom. With a popularity second only to Cricket, India has always been referred to as the sleeping giant waiting to be awakened, but when?

Looking back at the history of the sport in India, the oldest competition for football outside the British Isle is The Durand Cup. Established in the year 1888, having a British contingent play the first match, while Mohan Bagan A.C. created history when they lifted the cup in 1911, becoming the first Indian Side to win the trophy. Just after Independence the 1948 Olympic team played barefoot against a formidable France, it attracted the admiration of none other than Princess Margaret, the younger sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, while the captain that led the team in the 1952 Olympics, Sailen Manna, was the only Asian in the top 10 captains list in 1953.
Although history does have a colorful picture to paint, Football fell into the similar pit like as Hockey, or more
accurately it was actually Hockey that followed suit. Whether the sport fell into bad administration, or because of the lack of interest in people, or the meteoric rise of Cricket and eating into all the other sports, we cannot say, except for the fact that Football is still lags behind.

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Throughout its history, Football does have a few bright spots, and occasionally bringing up the spirits, only to fall deeply short of expectations. The time when India played the AFC Asian Cup and losing all three of them, or being crowned SAFF champions a number of times only to find out that it is nowhere close to a comparison for competition in the world stage. Its not that winning the SAFF cup has no value, but India is more stagnant and winning it seems to be the only achievement that India had in a long, long time. While in more recent times, India lost the finals to Afghanistan in the 2013 edition.
All said, India is a country never short of talent and all it needs is the right pedigree to groom players for the world stage. With the recent burst of interest in the I-League not only being a pleasant surprise, but a great encouraging factor for players who, would otherwise, have to convince people about taking up football as a profession rather than a sport or for passion. This again directly proportional to the fact that the I-League has more city based clubs now, unlike the earlier years, which had more of institutional clubs.
By far the best thing to have ever happened to Indian Football is the opportunity to host the 2017 under-17 World Cup. Now a tournament of this proportion would not only get the world’s attention to Indian Football but an initiative to take Indian Football to the World stage in the best possible way. Whether it is a stepping stone for India to take Football to the highest level, or one of the many great things to have happened to Indian Football which is followed by a downward spiral, or even worse what if it is a replica of the Commonwealth Games fiasco, only time can tell.