‘I was watching the Blackburn game on TV on Sunday when it flashed on the screen that George Ndah had scored in the first minute at Birmingham. My first reaction was to ring him up. Then I remembered he was out there playing.’ – Ade Akinbiyi

Soccer! Soccer! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that magic word? The rush of adrenaline? The crowd’s cheers pounding in your ears, resounding with every emotion in your head, as if amplifying it? The power coursing through your body, willing all challengers to come forth? The entire nation, lending you fragments of their hearts, empowering you? Yes! Yes! Yes! This is what comes to mind when you step onto a soccer field, and as you inhale the fresh grass, you can actually feel something big about to happen. Such is the intensity of soccer, that conjures up within you the great aura of thrill.

Lets have a good look at what that “something” in soccer is that can make or break hearts. Clearly, the popularity of the game has gone over the head! Says Mr. V.K. Thapa, former Captain, India Soccer Team, “The passion among today’s people is truly tremendous! These countries rooting for soccer have their minds in the right place.”

Soccer, as we know it today, was molded during the 1960s. Increased media coverage and TV broadcasts made the game far more popular than it ever was. Commercial air flight replaced traveling by ship, which made it more efficient to conduct international matches. The overly-commercial World Cup of today had actually humble beginnings. Early in the 20th century, FIFA tried to arrange an international tournament, but it wasn’t until 1930 that the first World Cup was held. The tournament was designed as an alternative to the Olympic games where professional footballers where not allowed to compete. The first World Cup was held in South America.

A graphical representation of the attendance in the previous three World Cups states clearly the growing attention the game gathered. The importance of soccer is that it has accumulated a massive gathering of people of all ages and has instilled a realistic feeling of national pride and strength. Perhaps the biggest ideal soccer has set to the world is the concept of teamwork which has been the sole factor in making this sport popular in countries which had their attentions on other games. It is surprising to know, that soccer has nearly overtaken baseball, the national sort is the USA as its most popular and desirable game! Clearly, soccer is gaining importance as a team game that would inculcate in young players the importance of playing as a single unit, and playing hard. The second thing that soccer has brought to attention is physical fitness and agility. Since a healthy body is a must-have in today’s age, more and more people are turning to soccer as it is easily accessible, fun as well beneficial.

“When I joined Mount St. Mary’s, I was ‘round 62 kgs in weight and all people had this thing of picking on new people, so they used to call me Football! That was when I realized I had to buckle up and the something about my physique and my nickname gave me the perfect idea!”, says Aksheev D’Monty, student of 10th grade and attacking forward in Delhi Soccer Team.

Soccer is truly a mass movement going strong. In the years to come, more and more countries are expected to adopt soccer as their national sport. As I conclude, I stick to my notion, despite the arguments of many that soccer fuels aggression and people who take up soccer tend to mistake boldness with aggression, that soccer is still the number one game and will be so in the many years to come.

Karan Chowdhary

Delhi, India