Naduparambil Pappachan Pradeep has no high dreams, as he has fulfilled one of his greatest dreams- that of playing for India. Inspite of living in a rented house along with his family his endeavour with the ball had aroused admiration from the crowds of his locality for the way in which he struggled to reach such a level.
Shantakumaran Sreeshanth dreams that he will have a Porsche parked in the garage of his Villa. His aggressiveness on and off the field with the ball and the slapping episode made him a celebrity adored by many all over India and even outside.
Both of these people play for India but in different fields in a different way accepted by different people and most importantly treated differently but coincidently from the same state, Kerala. Ranked a mere 130 (143 a year ago) in the FIFA football rankings, we have travelled through travesty caused by an incredulous lot leading to such a pitiful predicament. Bob Houghton, the Indian Football Coach might find relief for some time in the recent Win in Nehru Cup over Syria and over Tajikistan in the AFC Challenge Cup held at Hyderabad. But instances of un-paid dues for Men and Women Hockey teams, scrapping of Hockey India (HI), Charlesworth; the International Hockey Federation nominee to India who was chucked out from India and is now coaching Australia for their quest for a World Cup triumph to end their 24 years drought shows us the shameful situation which we ourselves have led to.
The grand Beijing Opening Ceremony and the Vancouver Summer Olympics led me to make an introspection of the sorry state of affairs existing in the sports arena falling into a state of dereliction. The culture of sports epitomizes a nation’s tradition, development and viewed from a financial perspective, major revenue inspired by the growth of tourism and employment. The mental barrier existing in India to consider the professionalization of sports has been a shot in the arm for the negative attitude of seeing it as a degraded profession.
‘Chak’ dem out India!
We are fortunate to have a separate department with a Minister heading it for recognizing and encouraging the spirit for sporting. Thanks to the laxity, red-tapism and narrow mindedness we are witnessing or have witnessed as in the case of the traditional national sport Hockey caught in the quagmire of dirty politics, the end of Indian sports. Truly Indian, for we are the creators of the Chess (Chaturangh), Badminton, Kabaddi and various others which are seen as modified forms of the present sports. When the Indian Hockey shamelessly drowned away to the labyrinth, caused by incorrigible political hands who choose their ‘beloveds’ to win for their country!! It sounded the death knell of Indian sports degrading itself to a forced vacuum caused by the power hungry authorities and the money making cricketing. Examples are many from the Manipuri Monica Devi to Viren Rasquinha who was forced to chase a dream of going for MBA by quitting his much cherished passion for Hockey. But raising his voice against injustice earned the scathe of the Indian Hockey Federation and parental pressure made this Arjuna Awardee to take the emotional step. It is without any doubt of intimidation that the Indian Boxer for Olympics Vijendar Kumar said from his heart that his blood boils on seeing the hue and cry for cricketers when people hardly knew the names of persons like him. A renowned Channel interviewed people from various parts of the country of how many of them atleast knew 3 people from the Indian Hockey team. Much to the chagrin not many could even try to answer it, while others had sarcastic answers like Dhyan some one! (Dhyan Chand), Deeraj Pillai( Dhanraj Pillai). Thank god they are unaware of the present hockey player’s, atleast they can escape from the shame of having their names mispelt. P.T Usha rightly said that only if we are able to win medals on other sports can we able to end the ego attached towards cricket which has elevated itself to a business platform after the IPL where players are openly traded in a market. The Market of Sports is strange and risky, but the market for sports in India is uneven heavily tilted towards Cricket at one side and the rest at the receiving end.
Contradictions in life exist so also in sports. The suicidal death of former Indian football captain V.P Satyan because of financial difficulties still remains a shock to the football fraternity. While on the other hand cricketer Abhijit Kale offered a bribe of Rs 10 lakhs to the Indian selectors for getting him selected which when entered the limelight led to his banning. How many more Kale’s still exist!!!
For the second most populated country, there is no wonder in affording to be the most optimistic of all as has been shown by a recent survey. It has now been a routine affair for the Indians to wish for a miracle to happen in events like Olympics. The Quest for Olympics Gold (OGQ) is worth admiring, but the infrastructure and preparations despairing.
I would myself be delighted to be called as a Sports Activist who works for spreading the importance of having a sporting culture for the development of a healthy life. One should understand that Sports have a larger role to play in the society other than mere entertainment.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gothiacup/3490366961/]