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Football is a game of the young. It needs strength, stamina, skill, nerve and a never-say- die attitude. Subhajit talks to a cross-section of teenagers and youngsters to understand what they feel about the popular game. The respondents came up with interesting observations. Read more about what they feel has caused the downfall of this game, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
The contemporary history of the world’s favourite game spans more than 100 years. It all began, in 1863, in England, when rugby football and association football branched off on their different courses and the Football Association in England was formed – becoming the sport’s first governing body. At present, in need of concern, apart from the renowned figures over the media, very few rising stars are joining this famous game. It’s a game of the young, with adrenaline pumping for 90minutes or more – in the case of extra time and sudden deaths.
We talked to some teenagers and youngsters about the present situation of football, where it stands and also their impressions about some exciting matches of the recent past. “The talent is, however, missing. There are no new players joining in the various teams. No rising stars like Rivaldo or Dinho. At present, we are crazy about Messi, Ronaldo but there are no successors to back them up. People are not sure and their opinions vary widely about some of ‘the great players’ at present because they have become legendary footballers. No new player is showing up. It could be either because of the lack of interest or because of the lack of potential like the famous footballers,” said Arkadeep, an undergraduate student of English Honours at Vidyasagar College, dwelling on international football, now.
Apurba Mahato, a student of engineering at the Indian Institute of Engineering and Technology, Shibpur, said, “Nothing has changed, just the professional football players are making more money these days. It’s the most popular sport all over the globe. Lack of inspiration is indeed a factor that is affecting the future of this sport.”
Bodhisattwa Mondal, an undergraduate student, of Economics Honours, at the St. Paul’s College, observed, “Not that we don’t have any rising stars, there are lots of upcoming stars. Neymar, Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and lots more. However, it is to be noted that people are into the international leagues that are organised for certain periods. Unlike cricket, football is mostly entertaining – if the matches are organised after three or four years. We should have more of football, at international levels. No offence please. This sport needs a lot more attention and concern than others.”
A question that is pertinent is about the plight of this game in the Asian countries? Also why India has failed to make a mark in this sport? Arkadeep explained the pros and cons. “Politics play a major role in few Asian countries. Most of the Asian countries have improved. South Korea reached the semi-finals in World Cup, 2002. India is the only country which hasn’t improved. The amount that the government spends on sportsmen is often pocketed be of the politicians. Nothing happens even when they are exposed. They enjoy impunity. Corruption has killed this game. Nobody can help that.” Apurba added, “Lack of proper training, I guess. We cannot nurture the young talents. Family pressure is also a factor. We could have been great football players, but all are studying in engineering and medical colleges or doing some odd jobs. Parents would appreciate us working in hospitals and offices rather than being at the stadiums. The popularity of cricket, in India, to the point of a religion might also be one of the reasons behind football’s failure.”
They also had their views about the matches that they enjoyed the most. Apurba said, “I miss the anxiety that we had about football matches in Bengal. Being a Mohan Bagan supporter, I enjoyed the team beating it odds out of the field with the goals. However, if both the teams in a match are my favourite, I would choose the underdog team in the match. I like when any underdog team upsets a favourite. Winning against them means a lot more. Other than skill, it’s the psyche, the nerves. I like when something unexpected happens in sport. The match between Germany and Italy in Euro Cup 2016, quarterfinal and Argentina vs Germany, World Cup final 2014 are my favourite matches till date.”
Bodhisattwa expressed his views about the present condition of football and the audiences, to sum up the conversation. “All the events depend upon the TRP on TV channels. If there’s audience, there’s money. UEFA Champions League draws more audience than World Cup and other international matches. The Premiere Leagues grab the hearts more than other leagues in all the nations. There is a demand for known faces and none are interested about the upcoming generation of football. La Liga has become famous but no one watches the matches of players under 19 years. Plus, there is a lack of unity and coordination among players these days. The question arose during World Cup 2014 when Spain, the defending champion lost to Netherlands, with a score of 5-1. There are some brilliant players in the team of Spain but they couldn’t win the match. A possible reason could be the lack of coordination. In football matches of the clubs, the players stay together all the time. So, they get to know each other and understand the game. Playing on the field becomes easier.
However, for the matches at the national and international level, the players from different parts are brought together. They often get less time to know each other and unite to get the teamwork going. I guess that’s why there has been a fall in the level of football that we saw or heard of in the previous years. I guess that’s why the question arose if international matches would soon fall short of public interest.”
Photos from the Internet.