Friday, 30 July 2010

2058 - India's tryst with Football World Cup.



Last month newspaper front pages, news channels lead stories and anchors, Facebook updates, tweets, youtube links, animated (does not mean cartoon), discussions in upmarket cafes and attendance in pubs - all of India went ballistic (there is no pun about football on that word. There is no pun of any kind on that word you sleazebag!), with the World Cup Football Finals. Every stall on Bandra Linking Road made a killing with football jerseys. Teenagers rolled in muddy maidans turned to slush by the rains and also managed to kick the ball occasionally. To cap it all, Television Viewership Data (decided by meters placed in real households of real people defined as people without an internet connection), convulsively proved that nobody was having sex during the World Cup. Sorry. Conclusively proved that more people were staying up and watching football than the people watching cricket.

Football fever had finally arrived in India.

As is the current fashion, the frenzy whipped (I think I said go away, you sleazebag), by the media resulted in every newspaper, Dick and news channel beginning to dream of world football dominion for India. Columns were written by ex-national team football players, marketing gurus and John Abraham or Bipasha Basu, depending on who got paid more. Breathless news reporters covered gully football matches and Rakhi Sawant on football (there is a connection. Or two). The media took the Jabulani ball apart to reveal its bladder (yeah, even footballs need to pee), tracked down the company that makes it to New Delhi and celebrated India’s contribution to the world cup of football. Facebook was flooded with updates like:

India for the next world cup!

I look forward to cheering India in the world cup.

I saw two boys playing football in my lane. My heart overflowed with joy and hope and pride.

We can do it.

One day Jana Gana Mana will be played in World Cup Finals.

World cup here we come!

Football should be made compulsory in school. Marks should be added to tenth standard results.

It is three weeks since the World Cup Final and the frenzy has been un-whipped. (You still here? There are no links to WAG pictures here. Go away.)
The news of Diego Forlan, the man with the golden boot (remember him? No, no connection to the Bond movie), is arriving in India and it is not news any more.
Real and virtual media are back to reporting Dhoni’s wedding, Murali’s 800 and test century number 48 by ‘god’. Little boys are discovering that if they use a football to play cricket it is impossible to get out. Or are trying to convince the shopkeeper to take back the football because ‘I didn’t play with it even once’ and exchange it for a cricket ball.

There in lies the reason why India will not play in the World Cup Football finals in the foreseeable future. Be it rich USA or Europe or be it the poverty-ridden African nations and drug-torn Latin American countries, or rank outsiders Korea and Japan, it is only when little boys play a sport in every by-lane and every garbage dump can a country produce sporting talent. Money, infrastructure, sponsorships, schools, media frenzy all come later.
And what do you think they are playing in the lanes of Mathura and on garbage dumps in Dharavi?

But don’t take my cynical word for it. 48 years from now the Indian football team will participate in the World Cup Finals. That is because we have a government that is a keen observer of its electorate and its mood. It has noted the genuine interest developed in football by the entire nation and has appointed a committee to improve football infrastructure in India. This committee will travel to all world-class football grounds in the world. This committee will be sacked after three years for corruption and a new committee will start all over again. Ten years from now work will commence on building world-class football stadia in all the major cities in the country. After five upward budget revisions and 41 years later they will be completed just in time to bid for the 2058 World Cup Football Finals. The bid will be approved by the president of FIFA (who also will be a minister in the Indian government), and India will host the Finals. 
As the host nation the India team will get to play first round matches.

Don’t believe me? Well, I have it from the world's highest authority in football - Paul.

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