India is home to many different sports. Unfortunately, it is only the game of Cricket that is widely promoted, supported & followed in this country. I would like to draw the readers attention to a very significant change of times in our Nation’s Sports Culture. It wasn’t long back when the Indian Cricket Team were the most followed group of players in India. Cricket was the integral part of each and every Indian household. Nothing drew as much attention as Cricket did. It was like the spoilt rich kid of all the sports in India.
However, it’s noteworthy that in past two years, India has undergone a shift in its sporting culture. Names like Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Jasbir Singh, Anup Kumar and many more are often identified by people nowadays. Badminton and Kabaddi has finally arrived to the center stage, a place which was dominated solely by Cricket for all these years. It is a serious change in the Indian Sports scenario as other sports were seeking not only funds but attention too. Imagine winning back to back World-Cups and still unable to cater any media attention (Kabaddi - Men’s & Women’s National Team). Imagine not gaining any importance in your country unless you become the World Number One in your sport (Badminton - Saina Nehwal).
Our players have been through this. This scenario is as good as our Indian Cricket Team winning the World-Cup and not a single eyebrow is raised as a reaction to such a feat. Those were really tough times for both Kabaddi and Badminton in India when they kept creating historic moments for their nation and every moment went unnoticed by an entire nation.
Let me proudly enlist a few achievements that our sportsperson have accomplished:-
- Saina Nehwal reached the finals of Badminton World Championships and earned a Silver medal for it. That runners-up finish has helped reclaim the number one ranking in the world.
- Golfer Anirban Lahiri finished 5th in the PGA Championships which is the best performance by an Indian. Jeev Milkha finished at the 9th position in the same major.
- Sania Mirza won the Women’s Doubles at Wimbledon with her partner Martina Hingis while Leander Paes too partnered with Hingis to win the Mixed Doubles Title at SW19. Sumit Nagal and his partner Nam Hoang Ly also came out victorious in the Junior boys Doubles. This was the best year for India at Wimbledon.
- Satnam Singh Bhamara became the first Indian to get drafted into the NBA
The above mentioned are just the recent crucial developments that India has managed at International level. Despite the odds stacked against each one of them, they went forward and conquered. I cannot wait to see what greater heights they can achieve once we start supporting their sport the way we support Cricket. As far as Kabaddi is concerned, the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League has given Kabaddi the sport such a revival that nobody has managed to give it ever.
The League is in the penultimate stage of it’s second edition as I write this article and everybody knows which teams have qualified for the semis. Everyone knows how cunning is Raider Jasbir Singh’s play in Kabaddi and how well Rahul Chaudhari has managed to get the female fan following courtesy his charming looks. Until 2 Years ago, Kabaddi was unheard of and look at what insane popularity it has gained in such a short span of time.
It is 2015 now and you know that India has welcomed a mammoth change in sports culture when people discuss the unbeaten streak of U-Mumba or when PV Sindhu’s recent victory at World Badminton Championship against Former World No 1 and Olympic Champion Li Xuerui is creating a stir in media.
Saina Nehwal is as popular as Virat Kohli in India as well as World Stage. She has taken Indian Badminton to epic heights that nobody could ever dream to reach. Yes, we do have a strong line-up of shuttlers now that can most certainly give the best in the business a run for their money.
The success of our badminton players is directly proportional to the amount of views the future badminton clashes will get whenever they happen. Everything seems only positive for the popularity of these two and many other games here on.
A case of ‘Change is Good’, this is. It makes me happy to watch these players getting their due in the form of recognition and funds. Not only will this attract more eyeballs but also give hell lot of motivation to these sportspersons to continue excelling at their game and bring more accolades to our Nation, India.
May our Shuttlers be the swiftest, Kabaddi folks be the strongest, Tennis players score more Aces, Satnam creates 3 pointers, Pankaj Advani continues to dominate and our Golfers score birdies. Let’s give them the backing of a country that they have been playing for. Let’s Support them by giving a shoutout with the same intensity and love as we have been doing for Cricket.Published 26 Aug 2015, 13:00 IST