Premier Futsal League: The day Ronaldinho lit up a firestorm in India
By the time we received word that Ronaldinho had left the building, the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai had a sense of calm about it, barely emitting even the faintest sign of what it had been like for a good 60-70 minutes prior. Perhaps, those in attendance were still allowing what had just transpired previously to sink in. For those of us who were lucky enough to be present here on day three of Premier Futsal in Chennai, boy, were we in for a show on Sunday!
Ronaldinho is one of the greatest players of his generation. The titles and individual awards he has won are countless. Yet, it wasn't the success that endeared him to the public, it was the things he could do with the ball at his feet. Blink and you may miss it kind of moments.
Having watched all those exploits on television and then rewatched some of them countless times on YouTube, the live experience was still something else altogether.
Futsal is slightly different as compared to football, but it still involves essentially a ball at the feet and the objective of scoring the most goals, an art at which Ronaldinho excels.
At the end of the game between his Goa 5s and Paul Scholes’ Bengaluru 5s, he had set up a thumping 7-2 win for his side, five of them coming off his own boot, accompanied by a bag full of tricks that rained down on the opposition. A flick here, a trick there, a goal after that, rounded off with a Samba jiggle, Ronaldinho the star and showman were in full attendance on the floor.
And it came on the back of what could be called a disinterested performance earlier. In the opening game on Friday, the Brazilian great quite literally ambled around the court and barely registered a touch of note. He was a ghost of himself even on a bad day, and ended up playing very few minutes.
A Sunday to remember
Perhaps it was jet lag, perhaps he wasn't fully ready yet or maybe the master was just setting it up perfectly for the composition that he put together Sunday. Every trick that he pulled drew gasps from the nearly 7,000 strong audience in the house. There was the no-look pass, there was the 'elastico’, there was the nutmeg, there was the chip.
Of the five goals that he scored, the fourth will linger on as one of the most memorable. The opposition keeper was caught up field and Goa retrieved the ball, getting it to Ronaldinho, who still had one outfield player to beat. The Brazilian brought the ball down from the air with his right leg and decided to chip his opponent. It was absolutely perfect and the player being an outfield player could not use his hands.
Just as I was about to turn this in, news came in that Ronaldinho will be leaving the Premier Futsal League due to his commitments as the ambassador of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. It left me thanking my lucky stars that I was able to witness his genius in person.
Thank you, Ronaldinho, for the memories that will forever stay with me.