Yesterday, the t2 headline is a quote by Saina Nehwal:
I appeal to parents to allow their children to pursue their dreams. If they have the talent for badminton, please allow them to pursue it.
Saina is 19, which according to many doesn’t qualify her to be called an adult, though technically she is because in India 18 is the age of adulthood.
I bring in the talk of adulthood not to obfuscate Saina’s fervent appeal, rather to make the point that it required her to suffer pain to utter those words. It is not difficult to understand why.
Sports and games are hardly the first choice for most youngsters. Their parents will be happy to see them become doctors and engineers. The greedy parents make their young ones suffer the grind of reality shows in order to become rich overnight.
Cricket is another passion. It’s a funny game that is played in 3 formats, occupies more space in newspapers and time on the TV than any other game, and engages players who are long past their prime. The last happens because – no matter what anyone says – cricket hardly needs supreme fitness of body and mind.
Some time back the union sports minister made an immature remark about India’s football. Not to be outdone, the national football coach gave vent to his frustration at the state of affairs in the country.
Let us look at what Bob Houghton said:
I’m amused at times (when people talk about how poor the Indian team is). I remember the Sports Minister saying this Indian team would lose even to an Australian school team. I don’t know what prompted him to say that but I feel, instead of being cynical he should’ve asked himself why the facilities aren’t there.
How true! In his column, Free Kick, in The Telegraph, even the redoubtable PK Banerjee wrote:
A close look would reveal that top Indian sportspersons in almost every discipline train in foreign countries these days. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have made global impact. Even world chess champion, Viswanathan Anand mostly stays in Spain because of better training facilities.
The fact of the matter is that except cricket we the Indians don’t like sports or those who play them. Whenever there is a success the media rushes in to start the game of adulation making the sportsperson a temporary hero before dumping the news and the player altogether.
And yet we are a billion strong country!