“Nice Pass from Ozil. Clinical receive followed by a 360 degree turn by Ronaldo… Tearing past Gerard Pique, Puyol dodged with a step over… Goaaalll!! RONNALLLDOOOO!!! Sublime finish!! What a goal by Christiano Ronaldo!!”
Eyes streaming with lack of sleep, I stub the cigarette as I turn off the HD set top box. The monitors go off to sleep on their own these days. The smoke from the burnt stub draws its last breath, tracing a serpentine curve in the heavy summer air.
The smoke from the burnt stub was drawing its last breath, tracing a serpentine curve in the heavy summer air. Lalmohan Roy, known in the Calcutta football circuit as Lollyda, exhaled three perfectly formed rings of smoke. The setting sun perfectly outlined the silhouette of his six foot wiry body. “You are getting better. However, when it comes to the penalty shootout, you rely too much on your reflexes. That won’t do. You are a goalkeeper. You’ll have to predict. And predict correctly. Accurately. The movement of the hip is what you need to concentrate on. The hip of the attacker is your compass.”
The grandfather clock strikes three. Relic of a timepiece. Inherited of course, from my grandfather. Time for a good night smoke. It’s office again tomorrow. What a goal. What a bloody brilliant goal! A receive. A 360 degree turn. Tearing pace. Keshu had scored an identical one in school, in the A Division football final. Keshav Adhikari. Territory Manager for a telecom company. It was raining that afternoon.
Need to get up at 7. Reach office by 9 AM. Just can’t stop thinking about Keshav’s goal. I will never for my life accept that the 11 year old Keshav was any less talented than any of the footballers I follow on TV. Why do we not produce international footballers? Why don’t we stand anywhere in the map of football playing nations?
Ronaldo. From Portugal. Born to a mother who was a cook and a father who was a municipal gardener.
Messi. From Argentina. Born to a mother who was a part time cleaner and a father who was a factory steel worker.
Family backgrounds do not clinch the deal. What does? Infrastructure provided by the country?
Ivory Coast. A country torn by civil war. A lesser economy by far compared to India. GDP $1726. Ranked 12 by FIFA.
Mali. A country that is flanked deeply by the arid Sahara desert. GDP $1100. Ranked 26 by FIFA.
India. Fast emerging as one of the most powerful economies in the world. GDP $3851. Ranked 149 by FIFA.
Did that one decision, of not sending the national team to participate in the Football World Cup 1950, spell doom for the sport in India? Is the popularity of cricket eating away the supply of young blood in football, as more and more kids turn to cricket camps? But aren’t domestic football matches far more popular compared to their cricketing counterparts (except the IPL)? If football isn’t important, why did we build the largest football stadium (by capacity) in the world? Why don’t the clubs pitch in instead of just hiring foreign players? Or do we require a government body that starts nurturing young talent?
Is there something that I can do? Or maybe We can do? To help the sport that has been the first love for Keshav, me and a countless others, regain the place it deserves? So that the next Keshav Adhikari does not end up as a territory manager for a telecom firm?