The London Olympics have finished and India have won 6 medals. This tally of 6 medals is more than any of the previous editions of Olympics. But how proud should we be of winning 6 medals with a population of over 1.21 billion people? But,before starting the topic, I want to say congratulations to Gagan Narang, Vijay Kumar, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sushil Kumar.
Now, coming back to the topic, first answer a simple question honestly – What was the first game that came in your mind when you heard the title India and Sports? I am sure more percentage of people will come out with the answer “Cricket” for obvious reasons. Sadly, very few will name our national game which is “Hockey”. If nobody noticed, I must tell you that for the first time in Indian history, India has not been able to win a single match in the Olympics. India is the same country that won 6 consecutive gold medals from 1928 to 1956 and a total of 8 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals. I want to talk about every game, but in this article, I will only be able to talk about two famous games, which are Hockey and Football. Improving these games will ultimately help in improving other games too.Now, let us talk about Football. As you all might know, we qualified for FIFA World Cup only once in 1950, in which we did not participate as we were not allowed to play barefoot. But, actually we only qualified because many other teams withdrew. Now, India has already out of the 2014 World Cup after losing to UAE on 2-5 aggregate score in the pre-qualification.
Now, the questions arises – Why are we so poor at these games despite being the World’s 2nd largest populated country? Why can’t we find 25 World-Class players from a population of 1.21 billion people? Who is to blame? What can be done? Why is the condition of games in India so poor? I know we all blame corrupt governments and respective federations for such poor conditions. But other than that, I mainly blame our Indian media for this and keep in mind that whenever I say media, I am talking about news channels because they can affect any topic the most but they never try to turn attention towards these games other than Cricket. I am sure that you will agree with me that media is mainly concerned about only 3 things – Cricket, Bollywood and Daily Soaps. If Indian cricket team loses a match, then we have several debates.
But if India loses a game in any sport, then no one talks about it. It is a simple logic that if no one will criticize you about your bad qualities, you will not improve. These channels have special shows for Cricket but not a single show for Hockey. The fans of Hockey and Football hit out at players and federations for poor results but that anger lasts only for 1 or 2 days. Before there was IPL in India, there was PHL from 2005 to 2008. PHL stands for “Premier Hockey League“. It was very famous and it was telecast on ESPN but suddenly, this event never happened again in 2009 and afterwards. The thing which is even worse than this is that no one still knows the reason why it stopped. If only that time media could have asked this question, I am sure we should not have lost every game of the 2012 Olympics.
Football’s condition is even worse than Hockey because we never reach any close to even qualifying stages as the competition is bigger in Football than in Hockey. Last year, when we played against UAE in the second leg of 2014 World Cup qualifier in India, the whole match was played in a ground filled with water because it rained a night before the match. But no one cared to cover the pitch or take any required action and the next day it seemed as if we were watching a beach football in which neither there is a jump in the ball nor the players were able to dribble it. Our Indian Football Federation was sleeping at that time and again, no news channel had this debate.
If we really want to progress in Sports and bring on more than 6 medals in Olympics, Indian media needs to turn their attention towards other games also. We also need to change. If you know about good players in your society/village, then encourage them. Parents need to allow their children to play their favorite games, use websites to share your views, write articles and spread your views. This will put pressure on our federations and they will take strong steps. We always see our governments giving lakhs of prizes to our medal winners. It is a very good thing, but these players only get recognized after their wins. People should know which Indian players are taking part in the Olympics so that they can encourage them and cheer them in the stadium. There should be talent hunt shows in every state. Students should be educated about every game in schools. Just imagine how proud they will feel when they come to know that India defeated Germany in final of Olympics by 8 goals to 1 and that too in front of Adolf Hitler and the biggest win in Hockey is recorded by India defeating USA 24-1. We should be proud of history and then only we can improve our present. Students don’t even know why Sports Day is held on 29th of August every year.
So, I think these are some of the most strongest steps that can be taken to improve India in Sports. Start it from yourself and everyone will think about it.