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Why sports lovers must never miss the Barefoot Sports Festival

For sports lovers, the Barefoot Sports Festival is more than just about quizzing

Feature 14 Jan 2016, 23:32 IST

Barefoot Sports Festival 2015

At the peak of his powers from 1991 to 1996, it was said when Noureddine Morceli ran the 1500 meters, others competed for silver and bronze. At the start of the 2016 season, even his opponents are predicting a Golden Slam for Novak Djokovic; such has been his grip over men’s tennis. This prompted Djokovic to come up with the statement recently “Tennis is bigger than all of us”.

Indeed, no-one can be bigger than the sport that they play because long after they are gone, the sport still continues to unearth newer harbingers. However there are certain stars who become larger than life primarily because of the role they play: the sport becomes synonymous with their name.

Last week I happened to be in Delhi to be part of the Sportskeeda Barefoot Sports Quizzing festival, the fifth edition of the now annual event. Being exposed to quizzing since a very early age, I have been fortunate enough to have participated in a lot of quizzes in the last 20 years.

And I can say that this was special: not because it was sports and I love the subject neither because it had some of the best teams travel from across the country to compete but because this event was a manifestation of a person who single-handedly has been synonymous with an event.

Pakistan was not supposed to win the 1992 World Cup but they did. There were many reasons but if I have to pick one I will pick this: “The will of Imran Khan”. “Will” is a very powerful term in positive psychology: it can create wonders. Organizing an event under the aegis of an institute needs careful planning, co-ordinated team work, and running for sponsorships among other activities to successfully execute it.

All along, one has the brand name of an institute to fall upon for support. But imagine doing this as an individual with a few group of friends. Only those who have organized fests at any level can understand what this means. This is why Aniket Mishra is special.

Aniket Mishra - Barefoot Sports Festival 2015
Aniket Mishra

Aniket single-handedly is the flag bearer of an event, which some even say to be one of the most organized quiz festivals of the country. By attending the fifth edition of the quiz, I realized I should have attended the last four. But hopefully I will try to never miss Barefoot again. Because if you love sports you can’t miss this. This is not about prize money not about winning or losing this is about celebrating sport.

An event like this is also a poignant tribute to so many sportspersons from this country as well as internationally who simply have become “Wikipedia Entries” either lying peacefully in their graves or unnoticed in some corner of their lands. 

At least in the form of “Answers” they become “Questions” and come back to life. For a moment they are honoured.  

Because at some point of time in their lives they represented us, our hope and our passion. Their medals were our pride. They came to their chosen arena, did their job, won their titles, packed their bags and went home without much people knowing them. Because they perhaps did not have the power of a Television or an internet to ensure that everyone who wanted to know that they had won got to know immediately.

In the form of questions worthy enough to be asked in a national level fest, we make them once again relevant to the current generation.  And they won’t mind it: somewhere in their graves Jaipal Singh Munda would raise a toast with Ali Shah Dara discussing this question: Who were the first captains of Indian and Pakistan Hockey Team? We know the answer, don’t we?

Aniket will not always be there. But Barefoot should always be there. It is the collective responsibility of those who love sports to ensure Barefoot continues. Because barefoot is an institution and an institution has to survive generations. It will. We the sports lover of the country will ensure “it will”. 

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