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Youthfully Played!

Posted on April 20, 2011 in Sports

By Varun Shrivats:

The world of sports is subject to frequent changes; changes to ensure that quality of play is maximized. It is only like most other fields that fall under the category of “entertainment”, like music, movies, TV shows, games, and game consoles. One day, you might walk into a store and give in to a hip new gadget, and after a year, you might regret buying it after an exasperated store assistant tells you to stop bothering him for old parts. This is often the case in most sports. One day, a player might be considered top drawer, and some other day, he might get involved in a heated discussion with his coach regarding his “recent” performances.

In most of the modern day’s sports, keeping up pace with the rest involved has become a challenge in itself. One flawed performance is all that coaches, media, and the public need to start judging a person or a team. In fact, in sports like Cricket and Football, even the coaches/managers are constantly assessed by the Board of Directors. Any dips in performances would force the coach to bring about a change in emphasis of his team’s game, which, like most things in life, is easier said than done. Such is the pressure on sportsmen these days.

It can be said with certainty that every major sport, at some point of time, has witnessed the rise of a young star who managed to capture the attention of sportspersons and the public alike. Citing a few examples here may be unnecessary, but I would like to do so anyway to emphasize my point- Sachin Tendulkar (Duh!), Diego Maradona, Rafael Nadal, to name three.

One thing that needs to be said here is, that the aforementioned stars are just three of the many who started their sports careers at a young age and excelled. There have been youngsters before them and youngsters after them, who have ascended to points of zenith in their respective careers.

The success of such people as youngsters had (and has) huge impacts on the world of sports. Regulatory bodies started realizing the vastness of the potential to be tapped out of youngsters, and thus started encouraging the introduction of youngsters in sports. The younger versions of Cricket (Under 19) or Football (Under 20) World Cups stand as testimonies to this fact.

There are many advantages of giving youngsters a chance to actively participate in sports. Youngsters have a keen hunger for success burning inside them (Yes, I know, you might have read this one plenty of times), with the aims of proving themselves and making their side proud. If common sense and practical observation have taught us anything, it is that people start losing interest in things, which one day might have been highly engrossing. This is an innate tendency in us humans. The same applies for sports, though not equally well, seeing that some people nearing their 40s play with indescribable passion, as though they were introduced yesterday. Putting that anomaly aside, the general statement which this paragraph intends to convey is that youngsters in sports, fresh as they are, are not tainted with signs of losing interest in the sport, and seldom hesitate to push their limits in order to excel. Some manage to shine, some do not, but keep in mind that most of the ones who fall under the latter category did not fail due to lack of trying.

Let us now take a glance at the Cricketing scenario in India. In 2007, the whole of our nation was disappointed with the dismal performance of the Indian Cricket team in the World Cup. Fast forward four years, and what do you know, we have won the Cup. Like many, I believe that the introduction of the IPL played a big role in our victory. It served as a hub for breeding of home-grown talent. It helped in the rise of several talented youngsters, who otherwise may not have had a chance to play at such a level. Many Indian players drew pointers from their IPL experiences at the time of the World Cup tournament, and a proper blend of experience and youth was vital in helping us win the highly coveted cup.

The rising advent of youngsters is not exclusive to Cricket. F.C. Barcelona, widely considered to be one of the best Football clubs in the world of late, is known for its extensive “La Masia” youth system. Many of their stars, like Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi to name a couple, are products of their youth system. Last year’s Formula One Driver’s championship was won by Sebastian Vettel. He simultaneously won the tag of the youngest F1 Champion ever. 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics saw youngsters like Abhinav Bindra and Vijender Singh do our country proud.

Now I would like to elaborate on how each of the aforementioned stars succeeded in their respective fields. Hold on, don’t click on the ‘X’ quite yet, I was only kidding. On a more serious note though, allow me to conclude by stating that this article does not intend to convey that youngsters should replace experienced stars, in sports. It merely tries to highlight the importance and benefits of nurturing young talents so that they do not go wasted.