It makes one wonder – why does not a complete 90 minutes Indian football match generate the same enthusiasm among Indians as a transient run towards the goal from David Villa? What makes us feel deflated when Messi missed a goal but the embarrassing low world ranking of the Indian Football team (132 / 208) does even not make us blink an eyelid?
When one tries to analyze the questions above it brings a few interesting things to the fore front –
- It is almost a modern axiom - Football is such a passionate a game that no country can keep itself aloof from it. Hence .It comes as no surprise that same is the case with India. Another modern axiom is – Quality thrives. Hence it also should come as no surprise that since Indian football is not able to provide quality, the fans have naturally spread their interests beyond borders where quality is supreme.
- Another adage is – Too much pain brings apathy. Fans in India have been disappointed so many times that now they have closed their minds on Indian Football.
- Another fact to be noted is - Every country needs heroes. If it cannot find one it will invent one. In the case of India, a scarcity of national stars has made us search beyond for inspiration.
As abysmal as the situation may seem, all is not lost. If we can bring back the quality in football (or for that matter in other Indian sports). We have inspirational players like Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Cherti in our team. All we need to bring back quality is funds and management. But funds only flow in when there is market for the sports and market is ensured only by consistent quality. This viscous circle needs to be broken.
One innovative solution could be to use cricket’s immortal popularity to push up other sports.
- Imagine a sports championship between India-Pakistan or India-Australia where you have 9 matches in all – 3 in T20 cricket , 3 in football and 3 in hockey. Winning any game (in cricket, football or hockey) gives 5 points to the winning team and a draw in any game gives 3 points to both teams. The team which has the maximum number of points after the 9 matches wins the sports championship.
- We should conduct 3 matches – football, hockey and cricket all in a day one after the other to keep the excitement flowing in all sports. Also we should have a common sponsorship for all the 9 matches/ whole championship and equal prize money to all participants (be it from football, cricket or hockey), This will ensure sponsorship funds, moral boost up and quality improvement of all the games and the players involved in an equal manner.
- The excitement generated among the viewers by this format would help to revive the emotional bonding for other sports – something which has been lost due to apathy.
There is light at the end of the tunnel but we need to move towards the end of the tunnel.