Friday, 28 September 2012

Indian Football - High Time to Raise the Level & Reach Among the Best

Football, undoubtedly, is the most loved and watched sport in the world but the sad part is in the second most populous country of the world, football finds itself ignored. The sad part of the sad part is whosoever loves football (here in India) follows European Football & International football than our own Indian Football (obviously not all of them - some 'Deshbhakts' are still alive). The reason for this is basically one thing - the Quality of football. The European Football overpowers every other country in the way they play football, they run football associations and the way fans appreciate and support football and football clubs like hell. As far as the quality of the football is concerned, India, despite having such a huge human resource, has been completely unable to take the quality of Indian football to an ultimate level. 

Talking about origin of football in India, it is said that football was started in India in around mid-nineteenth century. It is also known that the game was introduced by the British soldiers. After the introduction, football was spreading like fire in India. The man behind this was Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhichary. It was in 1888 that Durand Cup (one of the famous Indian Domestic tournament) was founded. Durand Cup, though nowhere in popularity, is taught to be the third oldest football competition behind The English F.A.Cup and the Scottish Cup. Talking more of the history of not so historic Indian Football - 1889 was the year which gave birth to India's famous oldest current team, Mohun Bagan A.C. It was called Mohun Bagan Sprting Club at that time. After about 4 years, Indian Football Association came into picture. The sad but obvious part was that it did not even have a single Indian in the board. The first half of the 20th century was the most better part of Indian football as of now. A lot of club competitions came into existence which resulted in more and more clubs and that provided a great platform for the players to showcase their talent and succeed. In 1937, All India Football Federation was formed. Better known as AIFF, is currently the organization that manages and administers the game of football. 

Olympics 1948 happens to be India's first major international tournament. Indian team played barefoot in the whole tournament but were unable to stamp their footprints in the world of football (Maybe that's why they say - Shoes are better!). The post is not meant to bore you all with the history of Indian football but it is seriously important to know the roots before talking about the flowers. So, Carrying on, India in 1950 messed up the chance of playing in the World Cup. First of all, luckily, India got into the World Cup and yes, Completely Luckily! It was due to the withdrawal of the scheduled opponents that India got into the World Cup finals. Reasons for messing up the chance were many. Lack of practice, cost of travel, team selection issues, not understanding the value of World Cup and last but not the least, playing barefoot which probably was banned at that time. I don't know if they were reasons or excuses, but whatever they were, they didn't even change the present of Indian football at that time but also influenced the future and that's why we are struggling. 

How influential a person can be? Syed Abdul Rahim was the prime example of that. I don't know if he did his study in Architecture or not but he is the prime architect of Modern Indian football. As a coach, he took Indian football to soaring heights and that's the sole reason 1951-1962 is regarded as the Golden Era of Indian football. In this period, they became the best in Asia and even went on to finish fourth in Olympics in 1956. But in 1963, again everything changed. Syed Abdul Rahim died in 1963 due to cancer and sadly, Indian football also declined. Indian football was back to rags from riches. Since then, India is winning very low-key tournaments here and there but in the World Map, they are absolutely nowhere. In 1996, India got its own Football League but to be honest, no one actually cares for it. I-League, a new league setup which was supposed to change the football scene in India was introduced in 2007 but it has not been that beneficial.

There are many factors for football not being so popular in this part of the world. India has gone a long way in terms of development but it has failed completely to develop the most beautiful sport called Football. History is History, We can't change that. It is the present which is in our hands and we need to focus on it to bring about the change. Missing the 1950 World Cup was the biggest mistake which changed the destiny of Indian Football. It was the main reason which kind of erased India's name from the Football Map (Don't Worry! Nothing can erase it from World's Map or let's wait for December and see what happens!) Before globalizing the Indian Football, it would be great if AIFF concentrates in Nationalizing it first. There are just a few specific regions in India where football (Indian football specifically) is given some respect. The administrators have to learn a lot from the rise of cricket in India. And the rise is not a small one, it is something phenomenal. One thing AIFF should look at it is to start off a perfect base of readying footballers and it should start from schools. Football is very common in schools in India but the way the students play it in school would be enough to give a heart attack to Sir Alex Ferguson. The point is, the schools in India should have some proper coaches and physical education teachers who should be capable of teaching students the A to Z of football from formations to tactics to everything. I can bet you it is not at all difficult to find 20 awesome players in a country of 1.2 billion social animals. If the federation starts off building and discovering talents from schools, it would be super beneficial. Besides that, the domestic football structure should be a stable one. That means - Have a proper league and if necessary, modify it for the good instead of starting new leagues again and again. Applying the structure of European Leagues will be the best option to get out most productivity. Infrastructure is another important thing which should be looked into. From academies to football fields to administrative buildings to stadium architecture to hospitality - all needs to be top class. Quality is one thing which can not be compromised at all. Fans of football, in general, have to show much more enthusiasm towards the country's football. They are the ones who can actually take football to another level. They have to support their local teams and inspire them. We can say all the bullshit about the administration and the players but we need to understand that even Messi won't be who he is if he plays without supporters cheering him and his team in the stadium.
Wim Koevermans - The next Syed
Abdul Rahim or just another foreign coach?

So, the administrators of Indian football have to be damn serious about the condition of football in India. They need to be more selfish and look down to football as an opportunity for everything. Football is a big brand and it's the best global sport. So, if we will have a proper base system, a proper league structure, some superb stadiums, some overly-enthusiastic supporters (who know that Indian football clubs exist), a manager like (or better than) Syed Abdul Rahim & some really talented players (who believe in themselves) - it will be enough to reach among the best. We maybe 169th in World Rankings right now but we are going to be in Top 10 soon as change is the only constant. Just Wait & Watch.....

Friday, 14 September 2012

Why Always Him?

You may like him or hate him but you can never ever ignore him. He is one of the best things to have ever happened to football (or maybe one of the worst things). He is one of that unpredictable social animals that sometimes may irritate you and other times may well entertain you. We are talking about 'Super Mario' i.e Mario Barwuah Balotelli. According to Zodiac, he is a Leo and he definitely compliments all the character traits a Leo is thought to possess. He is ambitious, courageous, strong willed, positive, independent, self-confident. But where there is good, there is a bad & that's one of the reasons, he is 'Controversial' as well. That's why he finds (or maybe gets) himself into some awkward situations and that's when he asks "Why Always Me?". Well, Mario! Some questions in life can not be answered and this question is one of them.

Mario was born on 12 August 1990 in Palermo, Sicily. He was born to Christian Ghanaian immigrants Thomas and Rose Barwuah. Just when he was viewing the world in wonder with his new little pair of eyes, he had to face some serious life-threatening medical complications. Due to them, he had to undergo the knife quite a few times. In 1992, his condition improved and it showed how tough he was from inside since his birth. Facing some severe financial problems and depressed with their young one's health, Mario's parents decided to entrust him to an Italian foster family, the Balotellis. That's where he got his cool last name from. Anway, What's in a name? He had to wait for his 18th birthday to become a citizen of the country where he lived all his life. As far as his football life is concerned, at the mere age of 15, he got into the first team of then the Serie C1 team Lumezzane. The turning point of his fascinating life came in 2006 when Italian Giant Internazianole (sweetly known as Inter Milan) signed him (obviously on the basis of his extraordinary 'football' talent). When Mario came into limelight and was tasting the early stage of his fame, his biological parents asked for his return which irked Mario who later accused them as 'Glory Hunters' (just like Liverpool F.C. fans - just joking!)

He made his first team debut for Inter on 16 December 2007 and had a great debut season as he was able to impress one and all with his classy football skills. The match that helped him gain prominence was one against Juventus in which he scored two lovely goals. Icing on the cake was that Inter won the 2007-08 season. Shining high, Balotelli, in November 2008, became the youngest Inter player to score in a Champions League Match. The other side of Mario Balotelli started showing up in just his second season with Inter where he had numerous disciplinary problems. Besides his self-created (not always intentional) issues, Balotelli was also the target of many Juventus fans who quite often racially abused him. Encounter with fans, players, officials was become Balotelli's forte in Inter. The most sad part of his Inter career or rather his football career as yet would be Jose Mourinho calling him as 'unmanageable'. If the best manager in the world calls you that, you know some things need to be mended. The carefree Mario created another scene as he was spotted wearing A.C.Milan's jersey in a National T.V.Show.

Due to his antics and infinite controversies, Inter decided to sell him and it was Manchester City who signed up him exactly on his 20th birthday. Manchester City boss, Roberto Mancini expressed to the media that he is the next big thing in football and Premier League will be the best platform for his success. In a way, that was true but playing in English Premier League would mean more followers, more coverage, more exposure and all this helped him in showing his other side more than his talent. Just after 2 weeks since joining Manchester City, Balotelli got involved in a car crash and he was found with around 5000 GBP and on being inquired by the police about the reason, he kept calm and replied, "Because I'm rich." In one instance, Super Mario made a Manchester Sixth Form college very famous by stopping at it because he wanted to use the toilet. In a similar kind of event, he visited a Women's prison in Italy to just have a look around. In October 2011, electrifying Balotelli's home was set on fire due to a firework that was let off in it. The follow-up of this incident was totally ironic because a week later Mr. Mario was unveiled as the brand ambassador of Firework Safety Department of Great Manchester. As far as money is concerned, he seriously needs a London Business School Graduate as his Accounts Manager as Mr. Mario has lost a lot of money in gamblings etc., and even Mario is a proud (or not so proud) holder of a record as he spent around 4000 GBP in just one night at a bar in Ibiza. Balotelli's performances as far as the technical department is concerned were above par but his over-aggression and involvement in awkward incidents overshadowed his real technical traits.

Just 22 right now, Mario Balotelli has a long way to go. He didn't have that easy a childhood one deserves to have but that's how it was to be. With his talent, he can inspire one and all - he just needs to do things in a certain way. He does some strange things (even he admits that) but as far as those things are legal, not-offending, socially acceptable - then it is fine otherwise he will be just another footballer though he is capable of being the best if not one of the best footballers ever. Even if he is helpless with his antics, he can at least try to not be indulge in things and incidents which will affect his career.

Friday, 7 September 2012

90 Minutes And Beyond - The fun starts!

"Some people think football is a matter of life and death, I assure you, it's much more serious than that." - These words by Bill Shankly sum up the seriousness and high intensity of unarguably the most amazing sport in the universe. Compared to all other sports including -  Gulli Danda , Tennis, Basketball or even Cricket for that matter, Football is undoubtedly the most advanced, globalized and successful sport. Football provides you everything from thrilling entertainment to shocking controversies. And as the name suggests, this blog is going to talk about every not-to-be-missed thing that football provides be it on the football pitch or off it.

Like anything, the game of football has evolved and has come a long way. Now it is not just confined to the football pitch or even the area where it is played at. Football is everywhere. Names like 'Messi', 'Ronaldo' etc. are known even by 5-year old kids (some of who haven't even kicked a ball yet),  in remote parts of the world. Football is associated with passion, emotion, excitement, dedication, determination and any emotion you can think about. That's the beauty of the game. You either follow football or you follow nothing. 

So, that's the objective of the blog - to keep you updated with what's cooking in the world of football.