I have been itching to do this for some time now, but guess now’s the time to start it. Talk a little bit about Indian football. Hold it right, ‘cause I know what’s coming. What’s there to talk about Indian football anymore? We sit at the bottom of the FIFA ranking, mate! BUMPED into Baichung Bhutia recently on a flight and he insisted that if we don’t talk about it, we will be doing a huge disservice to the game – a game whose passion is unmatched in West Bengal, Goa, Kerala and most of north-east India.
So what better than to talk about the mini resurgence of a century old Kolkata club which many had consigned to the reams of history. The last time Mohammedan Sporting won Durand Cup was before Independence in 1940 by defeating Warwickshire Regiment. In September, they won it again after 73 years.
And there’s a silent churning in Indian football led by a few in north-east India. Clubs like Shillong Lajong, clubs like Baichung’s Sikkim United. They are investing in a platform for local boys – boys who have unmatched flair and hard work (need some technique though). Talking about a churning, in Belgium they have shaken and stirred the pot and tossed every traditional football theory out of the window. They sowed the seeds of a revolution – a revolution that suddenly sees Belgians commanding the same space on the pitch as the Spaniards or Brazilians or Argentinians. Top football Leagues across Europe have become a hotbed for Belgian talent.
India is hungry. Can India become the next stop? Possibly a 20-20 style football tournament could change the football demography in the country, where the sport has suffered from decades of incompetence and apathy. Possibly some basic infrastructure can also help. But first we need a mindset and a goal. What's football without a goal. And what’s better time to remind the nation but as World Cup fever peaks.