By Atul Kapoor
Has India, as if by an invisible hand of God, transformed into a land of Football buffs overnight? Who infused such a seemingly indelible spirit into the psyche of otherwise preoccupied nation that till now was soporific to the nitty-gritty of this most popular sport on earth?
Sounds incredible, isn’t it, for a country that holds 132nd rank in the world as far as its performance on field is concerned. But if you were to dig a little into this sudden outburst of enthusiasm for the so called ‘beautiful game’ you would be able to unearth the all-pervading sham and discern that the hysteria that had come to grip our ‘going with the flow’ masses is mostly pretentious in nature. Try to eavesdrop on some football centric discussion – which as a matter of fact are the current fad and somewhat impossible to escape – and you would realize the shallowness of the argument. A snippet gathered from some source a vignette absorbed from some other a highfalutin piece of information assimilated from yet another, and you have a reasonably demonstrative concoction of the knowledge-brew at your disposal that makes you seem like an erudite of the otherwise alien game. This utter mad rage, this unruly passion for soccer comes across to me as a shocker rather keeping in mind our negligible visibility in the hierarchical order. Our worldly rank speaks volumes about our seriousness for the game making it self-evident that soccer is not our saucer of tea, and yet, come FIFA World Cup, every other person in our part of the globe, as if out of indispensable compulsion, would do their best to let the world know about their in-depth and thorough understanding of the game and its trivia. In this highly globalised world one of the reason for such behavior could be the peer pressure that triggers the urge to exhibit one’s unequivocal devotedness to the game that has such a humongous fan following all across the globe.
Another reason could be our latent anger juxtaposed with visceral shame that despite being a nation of one billion plus we cannot even claim to call ourselves as football minnows because even minnows in spite of their limited influence can at least take respite in the fact that they exist. At 132, if frankly analyzed, we have an existential crisis at hand in regards with football. And yet we can do very little about our predicament in the present scenario. Because India, in spite of its much publicized and acclaimed potential, is a land of umpteen problems and if we were to sit down and draft a priority list of our problems then the issue of gaining respectability as a Soccer playing nation on such priority list may well compete with our current ranking in the world. Keeping in mind the pace with which we sort out our problems it might take us another century if we would begin to sound optimistic today. One might here be tempted to argue that why can’t we excel in the sport when even countries from African continent have created a niche for themselves – which is a potent argument by all means. Do we have a dearth of requisite talent, or is it the lack of willingness, or is it that we don’t have a vision, or are we simply couch potatoes who love to consume the game from a safe distance and abhor the idea of hitting the ground and get our hands (feet, for that matter) dirty?
It’s a million dollar question as to who will foot the ball, and that too when the (foot)ball is in our court itself. As a rule, footfall, when it comes to football, snowballs with the onset of the world cup and drops drastically with its denouement. This world cup, just like many other in the past, will come to an end, and with it will also come to rest the madness galore. And then there shall be the lull for another four years before we pull up our socks yet again for yet another spectacular world cup that would once again unleash our dormant spirit for this distantly beautiful game.
About The Author: Atul Kapoor is an author of a novel ‘Incredible High’ published in the year 2010. Presently, he is working on his next book which is a group of short stories knitted together to give them a semblance of the novel. He keeps dabbling in poetry and writing articles in between.