Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nice article about how India could hit the big time in football. As always, the solution is to get our dastard(or is it bastard) politicians out of the way.

It’s the will, stupid
BY M. J. AKBAR

19 June 2006



HOW big is Togo? How small is Togo? How big is India? How small is the Indian? How petty is the mind that manages Indian sports? How minuscule is the pride that a nation should have in its sports team? How complacent are we Indians — or for that matter, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, the wretched non-performers of South Asia — that we permit our sports czars to crush our national pride so that they may pick up the travel allowance perks of officialdom.


How humiliating that young men of Kolkata pray for the success of Brazil (or possibly, after Crespo, Messi and a goal against Serbia and Montenegro that will remain imperishable in my memory, Argentina) in the World Cup because the Indian football team is a pathetic joke that would not find a place in the dustbin of MAD magazine. It was not always so. In the 1950s India was a pre-eminent side in Asia, in the hunt for medals at the Asian Games or even the Olympics. Chuni Goswami can tell you the story over a glass of something soothing at his club in Kolkata. But while other nations in Asia and Africa (which did not exist on the sports map of the world) put sweat into their skills and passion into their dreams, we Indians slid into a swamp.

Who is responsible for this degeneration? The easy answer? Politicians. Politicians have usurped the leadership of sport after sport, and presided over failure and collapse with the aplomb of the indifferent. But that is only part of the guilt. There is no reason why politicians should not be as fond of a sport as doctors, lawyers. Politicians also have the acquired or natural talent for dealing with people, and sport is nothing if it is not public. The problem is that in India sport serves the politician instead of the politician serving the sport. Sport is the means to presence in media space, a bridge for sprints by vanity. This is a particularly Indian disease. The only fatal disease more fatal to sports is possibly the Pakistani disease, where generals suddenly mature into experts on squash or volleyball the moment the pips come off the shoulder.

The syndrome is similar, for both use power to extend their clutch over sport. Since no Pakistani politician is in power, although some are in office, it is inevitable that the outreach quota should be filled by generals. What is the difficult answer? That we, the people, who love sports and love our country, and thirst to see our national team win a match or two in the World Cup finals, let our self-appointed masters get away with this crime. Why do we permit our institutions to be purchased by non-professionals? Why is there no public demonstration of anger? Tony Blair may have been one of Britain’s most successful Prime Ministers, but when he is eased, or hopefully pushed, out of 10 Downing Street the one job he will never get is management of England’s football fortunes.

rest of article here: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2006/June/opinion_June58.xml§ion=exclusive&col=

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