Why India does not qualify for the FIFA World Cup?

From IPL to FIFA, the year 2010 has been a thrilling and exciting year for all the cricket and football lovers around the world. After the IPL fever, amidst all the smashing boundaries, catching publicity and raining controversies, now the stage is set for people to be gripped by the FIFA fever. FIFA is the biggest event in the history of sports, where teams from 32 countries will fight hard to prove their worth. FIFA, no doubt will be a breath-taking event, with all eyes eager to see their favorite teams and favorite stars perform to their best.

India’s status in FIFA 2010:

My passion and excitement about the onset of FIFA died down a bit on seeing, “Status: Did not qualify”. And if you are wondering about what I mean, you need to pay attention to what I am going to tell you. While browsing through the countries in the Asian region that have made it to FIFA, I finally came accross India’s name with the Status – Did not qualify. Just like many, I tried thinking – so what if Indians do not have a good Football squad to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, the huge craze for soccer in India, can definitely quell their thirst and fire passion for the game.

Reasons why India is a minnow in Football

The more I thought about it, the more the question, “Why is India still a minnow when it comes to Football?”, haunted me. I kept wondering if it is true that the country with the second largest population in the world, does not even have the talent to qualify for the game, leave aside winning. But then whose fault is it? Is it the Indian National Football Team’s?  After all, the onus to at least qualify for the game lies on them. But, are just a  few people responsible for all that is happening? Not fair. Well, who else could be responsible? It could be the Indian Sports Federation, for providing poor infrastructure and fewer amenities, for the growth of Football as an integral part of sports in India.

Seeing the game worshipped in India, I was hesitant to say that, we too are responsible to a large extent, for what is happening. How many of us actually know “Who the captain of the Indian Football Team is?” Even I did not know it before I was faced with this question. This shows the level of interest we take in football in India, eventhough we are just as crazy and passionate about the game, as the people of the 32 countries who are playing the FIFA world cup this year.

Measures to revive football in India:

With the start of the FIFA world cup, we could identify our areas of improvement, by watching the quality of football played by the other teams. As football is a global sport, it gives us an opportunity to revive this game, even in our homeland. Inorder to do this, we need to get out of the herd mentality, that considers Cricket as the only sport that we are passionate about and are good at. We need to explore and form a football culture, just like the cricket culture, to improve the mass appeal for football in India. Inorder to generate  genuine interest in the game, every school should have a football ground, and every child should be given the opportunity to play ball. Additionally, world class facilities should be provided along with providing greater arenas of opportunity and exposure.

All this will not happen overnight. But at least, if we take a step today it will happen someday, and that day may not be far. And it is only then that we can aim and hope that in FIFA 2014, Indians would not just be viewing this game from away but will at least qualify to be a part and will recapture our pride of being a nation with a myriad taste and flavor for sports.

Manisha Rana