An appeal to one billion Indians to learn from Delhites, who make it to the ‘Fortress Ambedkar Stadium’, to cheer for Indian football and be part of its success story…
I quite like Goal.com’s appeal to support Indian football and say this with the fear that the moment I stand up, thousands will pound me with our pathetic history (post-1960s), playing and viewing facilities, playing standards, lack of any administration or governance, ‘dadagiri’ of clubs and a lot more. They are all true, but all of us have now got bored reading that over and over for months, years and decades.
The majority of the audience which salivates over Premier League or stays awake late for Real Madrid or Barcelona, do also feel that Hollywood movies are better, Singapore infrastructure is better, USA salaries are best and Lebanese wives are to die for! But they still catch latest Bollywood flicks, make a living here, travel BEST/DTC buses, love aloo parantha and are deep in love with India.
It’s this emotion, which should propel them to follow the national team and the national league of the most beautiful game on planet earth. It won’t at all be tough. The footballing authorities have ensured India play a max of dozen internationals a year and for starters, the I-league could just be followed through results, news capsules, highlights and league standings. If people have time to follow dragging tele-serials for dozen hours a week, surely the I-league is played at a faster pace!
Even my cable connection doesn’t show Indian football live, but that’s no excuse in this age where people roam with internet in their hand. It was this technology, one Wednesday when, while browsing the FC Barcelona home page, I came across this headline “Indian contingent happy with Nou Camp facilities, meets Pep”. It sent a shiver down my spine.
National coach Bob Houghton recently, on the eve of their Nehru Cup round robin match vs. Sri Lanka, said “Except for Australia, who are very tall and big and who have players in the English Premier League, we can now beat any other Asian country at the Ambedkar Stadium in front of a packed house,” The key word here is ‘packed’ and is a real tribute to each Delhite who has visited and cheered for the home team.
If that made, ‘Fortress Ambedkar Stadium’ and the intimidating feel to opponents, give credit to the man from Janakpuri and the lady from Malviyanagar. For long we thought reputed football stadiums exist only in Goa, Kerala and the massive Salt Lake stadium. The average Delhite is changing all such perceptions.
Bob Houghton isn’t your average Joe, having played as midfielder for EPL club Fulham and coached several nations to success, including China winning the 1998 Asian games bronze medal. So when he says so, it’s a clear tribute that it’s the people of the nation who can be a huge catalyst in overturning things.
For decades every Indian problem was debated and swept under the population explosion excuse. Today, it’s that massive workforce which has driven India out of recession when half the globe is still reeling. It’s a great example where the country surprised itself by overturning, its perceived weakness into strength.
The country has given everybody and every opportunity a chance, so why now leave football behind? It will take time and your patience but the day Indian football makes it big, you would surely like to tell your children/grand children ‘I was there ….. And am proud, I was there’