A couple of days back, I saw a post in which Sunil Chhetri was urging people to come and watch the Indian team play. This is what he said –
“To all of you who are fans of big European clubs and support European clubs with so much passion and sometimes you guys think that the level is not the same, so why do you waste your time? Agreed, the level is not the same, not even close but with our desire and determination, we will try our best to make your time worth.”
“To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium.
“Please abuse but make the ‘Blue Tigers’ feel relevant. I mean it’s not fun to criticise and abuse on the internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us, who knows one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is.”
– The excerpt is taken from this DNA article
You can see the original video here –
This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen. pic.twitter.com/fcOA3qPH8i
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 2, 2018
First, let me make this very clear that I am not a sports fan. Yeah, I watch the World Cup semis and finals if India is playing (funny, when I said ‘World Cup’ you immediately thought of Cricket) and the occasional India-Pakistan match.
So, why am I telling you all this? Because in the above video, is a man who is a thousand time more passionate than I am, a man who has dedicated his entire life to his passion, a man who is trying to make the country proud, and who is literally requesting you to come and watch him and his team play because he knows you won’t.
Sunil Chhetri is only one of many. There are a lot of sportsmen/women who have made the country proud on an international level, brought home medals, gave their everything to the sport and yet are not even recognized by the people of our country.
This is a common Indian thing. I don’t know why, but people of our country don’t give a crap about sports in India, besides Cricket. And no, I am not trying to shit on Cricket for being popular in India. It is an amazing sport and I am proud that our country has some of the best cricketers in the world. But let me ask you this – How many other sportspersons do you know who are NOT cricketers? How many footballers do you know? How many chess players? How many hockey players do you know? Hell, just tell me when was the last time you watched a hockey match when our team played.
You can’t, can you? Neither can I.
See, apart from a week of small fame of some athletes because of the Olympics or a movie like Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Mary Kom, most of us don’t even know the names non-cricket sportspersons.
Why do we do this? Why are we blind towards other sports? Why do we not care that not only it’s giving us a bad image globally, but we are also letting down those few people who are trying to live out their passions and making our country proud? Why is the condition of sports in India so bad?
Take this news for example – These state-level football players had to clean a cricket stadium to get money to replace torn shoes.
Or this one –
You get the point.
There is no shortage of talent in our country. Problem is you’re using that talent to add some extra ‘teekhi chutney’ in you gol gappas. Playing sports in India has become a joke. No one gives a crap about it. Not the parents, not the schools, not the government, no one.
Our parents never supported us, neither did our schools. Our parents forced us to go for tuitions when we wanted to go and play football that evening. Schools purposely cut down sports period for some other academic subject. The government doesn’t even give the jobs or the amount which is promised to the sportspersons for making the country proud.
We need to look past the academics. We need to understand that being a sportsperson can be a good career choice. And we need to start respecting and supporting all sports equally. Nothing against cricket, but there are other sports in India, and they need you to care.
The present makes me hopeful though. More people today are respecting and watching other sports as well. There are people who genuinely care about Olympics and even Kabaddi. People are recognizing our athletes and players. Even Sunil Chhetri’s plea was heard and the match was sold out!
We have the capacity to produce so many international level athletes if we just give them our support. I know we can’t all play sports (at least I can’t) and not many of us can financially support federations, but there are things we can do to show our support. We can go watch a match from time to time, or even watch it on TV to pump up TRPs, maybe share a post about some lesser known sportsperson or match or, in the very least, not stop our kids when they want to go out and play some sport. Because the current condition of sports in India is simply not acceptable.
Let’s make it happen so that no other sportsperson has to request people to abuse them if it means coming and watching them play.
Image Sources – Wikimedia Commons, Pxhere, Flickr