India: The Land of Untapped Potential

The fact that India is the seventh largest country in the world in some ways would automatically imply that our country must possess enormous amounts of talent in any field. One such field is the ever-growing one of sports. Sports is something that every Indian is enthusiastic about. Most of us, when we open the newspaper in the morning, turn to the sports page almost immediately for regular updates. Almost every child wants a cricket bat or a football as a birthday present. It can therefore be inferred that our country must be a perennial leader in various forms of sports. Sadly, this is hardly the case.


India was, and still remains, a land of untapped potential. Numerous reasons are responsible for such a dubious distinction. First and foremost is the lack of funds. Our government has always been hesitant in shelling out money for the sports sector. It is shocking to note that the Indian hockey team is made to travel in second-class sleeper compartments and stay in small, unclean dormitories. This is how we treat the people who represent our country. Not just hockey, but almost every other sport in our country suffers from the same ailment.


To excel in any sport, one needs to start at the grass root level. A person who starts playing a sport at the age of twenty-two can hardly be expected to dominate the world in that particular game. The immense academic pressure on the children hardly gives them time for extra-curricular activities. All of them are expected to become Engineers and Doctors, and being a sportsperson is scorned at, and often laughed upon. As a result, sports takes a backseat and the talent is never tapped at the grass root level.


One of the major reasons for us lagging behind in sports is partiality. We tend to be partial towards a particular sport, namely cricket, and neglect the others. It is ironic, that we rant and rave about a game that only eleven other nations play, while we tend to ignore the other games where every nation competes.


Here, a question arises, why do we do so? Why does cricket enjoy a God-like status in our country? Why is it that Mahendra Singh Dhoni going out to lunch makes the front page, and Saina Nehwal winning the Junior World Title is limited to a small column in the sports page? Well, one of the reasons is because we are good at cricket. That is why we actively promote it, and neglect those games we are not good at. We are content with the fact that we can compete well in cricket, and thus, the fact that we are poor in the other games does not register in our minds.


A change, for the better, has been seen in recent times. A perfect example being the Beijing Olympics, where our country found out that there are other games we can excel in, apart from cricket. Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal have been good ambassadors of their respective sports. Vishwanathan Anand has shown that we are capable of putting mind over matter. Initiatives are now being taken by various organizations to tap talent from the grass root level. The government is slowly realizing that there is an enormous amount of talent going waste and something needs to be done about it.


Sports is a medium that is capable of uniting nations. It brings together people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds. It transcends all barriers and serves as a goodwill ambassador. It is therefore incumbent that we promote it fully and become messengers of peace and unity.


Abhilash Sanyal



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