“It’s Cristiano Ronaldo who strikes emphatically past Oblak and WINS THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOR REAL!” screamed the commentator in sheer ecstasy as Ronaldo scored past the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper to hand Real Madrid their eleventh Champions League title- ‘La Undecima’. The Champions League final is always a delight for a football fan, something that a football fan waits for the entire season, hoping to see their team compete for the greatest prize in professional club football. The question that struck my mind while watching this year’s final was: Can India ever host a grand sporting event similar to the UEFA Champions League that attracts worldwide interest? I know cricket fans will rant about how great the IPL is, but let’s be very frank; cricket can never match the worldwide popularity of football. There are these few questions that cross our minds all the time-
- Can India ever be a sporting superpower?
- Can India ever qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals?
- Can India ever host the Olympics?
- Can India ever produce world class athletes?
At this juncture, one can comfortably say, without any hesitation, that it will take India a considerable amount of time to achieve all the things mentioned above. But, the concern is: What needs to be done so that we can overcome all our shortcomings?
India has always underperformed in International events like the Olympics, the prime reason being the inadequacy of world class athletes. But, who is to be blamed? Let’s start with the problems that India as sporting nation face today. The lack of infrastructure coupled with negligence from the authorities has plagued Indian sports since time immemorial. India is a country that cares only about cricket, while all other sports are considered to be irrelevant. Children are never encouraged to take up sports as a career because of highly unattractive prospects. All these manifest into two things- Poor quality of athletes & Poor displays at international events.
The need of the hour is a sporting revolution that will set free the chained phoenix that India is, so that it can rise from the ashes of underachievement and leave a mark of its legacy upon every living human being. To achieve that, few stern steps need to be taken. The government must make sure that all sports are given equal relevance in the country. To do that, new committees must be formed to keep an eye on the development of each sport in the country. Children in school must be trained from the very beginning, so that they can become the superstars of tomorrow and India can rely upon them to fulfill its dreams. Apart from that, abundant funding and proper infrastructure is what Indian Sports need today. Though, the introduction of corporate funded sporting events like Pro-Kabbadi, the Indian Super League (ISL), the Hockey India League (HIL) etc. have instilled new life into many sports, with many unknown athletes getting the opportunity to showcase their talent. A lot remains to be done on our part.
Has the Sports Revolution taken flight in India? Perhaps it is too early to claim that. But, the signs clearly indicate towards a better future awaiting us all. It may take us years, even decades before we finally achieve our dream of becoming a sporting powerhouse. But as the saying goes “Patience is a virtue”.