On asking myself the question, what do I love about Indian sports, the first thing that comes to my mind is the number of times the Indian cricket team plays during my semester examination. Irrespective of the exam I see the entire mess hall jam packed; providing one with a real and live experience. I have often wondered what it is with cricket that gives every Indian such riveting pleasure watching our nation win. But whatever it is, one thing is for sure, it’s certainly not going to reduce, especially with the cricket frenzy nation celebrating its rise as the number one Test playing team with such unbridled verve and brio.
On asking the same question to most of my friends I observed how the words “sports” and “cricket” went hand in hand in our country. Intrigued by such a response I decided to look up for other sports achievements in the last few years.
In 2009 alone, to name a few, what most part of the country didn’t see was; Saina Nehwal break the Chinese stronghold in badminton by becoming the first Indian to win a Super series title when she clinched the Indonesian Open. Vijender Singh pushed the boxing envelope further with India claiming its maiden World Championship medal in Milan and finding a world number one middle weight boxer in the 24 yr old.
In Pankaj Advani, India had its new world champion after he upstaged nine-time world champion Mike Russell of Qatar to become the second Indian after Geet Sethi to win the World Billiards Championship.
And in a heady August weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francochamps in Belgium Giancarlo Fisichella earned Force India’s first pole and then drove the race to sheer perfection finishing second and beginning a fairytale season which ended with Sutil’s good work with his fourth place finish for Force India in Italy.
Indian football also showed signs of revival and hope with Baichung Bhutia and his men winning the Nehru Cup and SAFF Championships.
Having started with games like Chariot Racing, Hunting and even “ Hide and Seek “, according to our Vedic mythology, we as a nation have come a long way today, competing at an International level and to an extent even being successful in our quests to put India on the word map.
But are we really making quintessential progress overall? is a question best left unanswered right now. The golden age of Hockey in India which spread over the latter half of the 20th century had brought us so much fame and instilled hope for the future, has so drastically collapsed with today, Indian hockey languishing in complete turmoil.
The infrastructure required for exemplary achievements is lacking in almost every sport other than cricket. The achievements of athletes at regional levels are not recognized and the funding in the research and development in our country is just so shameful.
The result of such mishandled administration was so ironically on display when the world saw a country with 1 billion flaunt with such pride the one gold medal we won at the Olympics. Where on the other hand the Chinese chewed on their gold nuggets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There is no doubt India has found remarkable success in its ventures in a few sports over the last few years but, how long can we ignore the lack of facilities and encouragement that hamper the dreams of those who aspire to represent their country and be proud to win both as athletes and as an Indians.
How long can we depend on the same few individuals to deliver again and again, criticizing them the minute they shall fall short of our expectations?
If only every sport were given the same encouragement and attention that cricket receives by the administration, media and the audience, would we so inevitably find ourselves as a nation at the forefront of sporting excellence.
That is when we as a country can proudly state that we have made prolific progress in the field of sports. Till then I can only hope that we wake up and realize that our destiny is in our very own hands and that we take every action required to let the world know.
“Mera Bharat Mahaan”
The writer is a Raipur based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz
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