Category Archives: football

Where did we lose our Sporting heroes?

I have always been a fan of sport. I don’t care about nationalities in general. So I would want Sampras to win over ┬áLeander Paes any day. I am not saying I don’t want India to win, just that I don’t mind it being beaten by a better team. After all,the very spirit of sports is just that, isn’t it? to celebrate the spirit of unity, of excellence, of passion and above all a toast to humanity? Sports like entertainment is an escape from reality. So when Sachin bats, a nation holds its breath. Just that we have held it too long, its time we left it all out in a gigantic fart!
Cricket is a game played by a handful of nations and indeed India’s insistence of celebrating it as its biggest offering to the world of sports would forever be an impediment in getting any kind of recognition in the international arena with regards to sports. We are good at it but its time we took a pause and looked around us. Sachin is a great player no doubt, but also take a bow- to Sania Mirza who broke into women’s tennis, to Saina Nehwal’s achievements,to Vishy Anand for inspiring a generation of youngsters after him, to Vijender ,to Mary Kom and to P.T Usha who undoubtedly lays claim to one of the most stupendous achievements by an Asian.Hell, even the Chineese and the Japaneese have not been able to penetrate the track and field glamour events at the Olympics!
The game of cricket is today a tamasha, what with the entire stink of IPL bogging it down. Its played through out the year only because people watch it with feeding on media generated frenzy.Even the most popular sport on this planet is not oversold like this game. That defies logic? only because cricket has not been sold but abused badly. Yet we wonder why India produces so few medals in the Olympics. Funny isn’t it?


There are sporting icons that transcend imagination, that plant the seeds of a rebellion and who rewrite history by their deeds rather than their records. Think Cassius Clay who embraced Islam, protested against discrimination and famously threw his medals into the gutter,think Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens defying Hitler,recall Bobby Fischer who broke the Soviet hegemony in the world of Chess,
take a bow to Serena and Venus ,to Seles and then you want to talk of pressure then think of Murray,the man who played on top of a 70-year-old pressure cooker, to Nadal who knew the clock was ticking even before he played his first Grand slam, to Kabaeva and Comaneci and to Messi who fought hormone indefeciency all his life and to Senna who died on the track fighting ironically for higher standards of safety. Know beauty when the Argentinian and Brazilians most out of the slums play their magic brand of football, remember Zidane before his headbutt and hell of Maradona and his struggle ,even Hansie Cronje who came out and said the truth.

Countless times we have debated on Sachin’s contribution to India’s successes and the fact that we are still debating is the answer to that question. Lara is not the greatest because he doesn’t have a 100 hundreds. Point taken.And then the issue of pressure. Who doesn’t face it? We then add to a good measure a billion people as if the athlete from Romania feels less pressurized because their population is lesser! Ask Phelps when he chased those records what pressure is (he didn’t take a year to do it, the poor bloke did it the first time) or ask the Chinese athletes who fear failing to win a gold at the Olympics.They all face it. Or ask Messi when he stands on the spot to take the kick and Casillas when he desperately wishes to save it(By sheer numbers there is more pressure here!).
Great men decide their own retirement I hear. They also come and go as they wish. It’s the freedom that comes with greatness,they can also be a member of parliament even while playing, its alright to forget discipline after all we take pride in spitting on the roads. Sab chalta hai Yahan! So ,its ok to not expect sporting discipline and professionalism. So, Zidane scored in his last match, Sampras lifted a grand slam in his last and every great athlete can still conjure the magic more often than their peers. The point is they leave when they cannot do it everyday at their will.
I am not saying cricket or Sachin is not great.Its not his fault that he has not suffered tribulations like others but only saying that take a look around.Give talent its due.Celebrate sport not biasness and prejudices.Dont aSK a person to shut and leave because they dare point a finger at Sachin, learn to be tolerant. Afterall we as nation are fast forgetting that a bit of common sense and lots of tolerance!Its time we celebrated our heroes.


The Year that was -2010

Hey guys wish you all a very happy ,prosperous and fulfilling new year 2011! I have been blogging infrequently in 2010 but hope to do better in 2011.
The past few days I have been watching a lot of these reviews and recaps.The media chose to dub the past year as one of scams ,the page 3 called it the year of big duds but I believe that the last year of the first decade post millennium was the one that defined change.It stood for the unravelling of all that we took for granted and in economics it marked a paradigm shift. All those who advocated a culture that’s spending heavy cannot now stop singing praises of the thrifty Germany and the saving Asians. Europe fell and boy what a fall it was! You see economists seldom understand whats going to happen given a set of circumstances partly because they assume all of us to be rational in their theories which behavioral economists will kindly point out that we are predictably crazy.So economists are much like astrologers and failure analysts ,in retrospection they work well but are unable to hit the nail where it matters most-the future. So 2010 saw the Euro take a mighty hit and the EU totter ,The US seems unwilling to overcome the slump and people are now debating on a double dip recession.The year was all about currencies and a purported currency war!it was also about new super powers,falling giants and protests.
2010 also saw in our nation the Ayodhya verdict being delivered,a plethora of scams and the dangerous ways of the UPA to own up to nothing and blame it all on a doubtful saffron terror was also the year of Julian Assange the wikileaks’ editor ,the new age role model and maverick iconoclast. you can see why youth like him. but seriously I don’t believe he brought out anything that really shocked you out of your senses and the US decided to make a mountain of a mere irritant.
we saw the big ones come to our doorstep and the media had a field day in describing Obama’s visit as a mendicant come calling for jobs!A tad premature and overdone ofcourse. its also the year when everyone for a change wanted their one time nemesis US to interfere in their internal affairs because they realized that China is more scary and less trust worthy.
On a lighter note in football the world saw the order shaken up once again. for all those people who argued years ago that the European way, in particular the efficiency of the Germans and the English was the way to go and that beautiful play doesn’t win you matches are now left without a balm to lick their wounds.Tell them Iniesta from Spain and Messi from Barca its enough.haha revenge is sweet more so when its cold!and thats what 2010 is about changing power balances and new power houses.It has changed forever the world we knew and the one that oUr children would grow up in.

When all the millions in the world cant get you a win,theres a leson to be learnt

Barcelona won Real Madrid for the fourth consecutive time in a Classico face off, a week back.In spite of Perez and Pelligerini spending millions of euros to assemble the second Galactico, they came a cropper against a team that calls itself Mes que un club(More than a club).The premier league of course fuelled by debt finally deflated as it had to. The EPL much like US forgot one fundamental business lesson- debt fuelled growth is doubly dangerous because it not only projects an illusion of expansion but an expansion that would actually not fetch you returns to invest elsewhere.So,ManU,Chelsea.Arsenal and the now for sale Liverpool kept quiet even as Real Madrid splurged a third of a billion to assemble a team to counter the Catalans.Barca like Catalonia stood not only defiant but humbled all those millions by a sheer display of a dazzling brand of football.The lesson to be learnt is that Barca has invested wisely while Real Madrid is floundering in the dark .Barcelona got its basics right.The EL Masia has turned out a bunch of homegrown loyal bunch that has turned out to be its greatest strength.If you were an investor you would bet your money on Barca because its backed by a talented and disciplined work force on field.What Real forgot is that at the end of the day you have got to play to win.

Of course with time,Real will gel and improve and Barca’s dominanace will be shaken but for now the club stands as a rare example of money not fetching you everything and for Pellegerini thats a win.

All things sundry

There has been a lot playing out on national television these days , from Sania Mirza’s over hyped marriage to Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor’s spat.But what underlines both these incidents is that we as a nation are beginning to concern ourselves with things absolutely unnecessary.Why would the drama on Sania’s marriage garner so many TRPs? when was even the last time she passed through to round 3 in a Tier 1 event? scratch your head,I cant find one in recent times. She afterall belongs to an affluent family from one of the most posh localities in the nation. Why then the tag of rising against all odds? I think it would do well for the public to encourage the other silent girl who lets all her achievements do the talking-Saina Nehwal. It was very telling to read Saina’s interview some days back where she said that she hoped that her makeover would inspire more girls to notice badminton as a sport. A champion of world 5 ranking deserves better treatment from the media, sporting authorities,Government and the public.

The IPL has the ability to be a great sport without all the glitz and glamor. when played out as just a cricketing match it has enough in its arsenal to attract large crowds. Lalit Modi has managed to make the whole thing a crass circus. Large crowds throng to watch football in Europe for the sheer brilliance of Lionel Messi and the bravados of Rooney,Not because Britney Spears is smiling at the papparazzi from the stands. Like it or not,T-20 has tremendous entertainment potential merely as a bat and ball game. Why then Shah Rukh Khan ,Preity Zinta ,Shilpa Shetty, scantily clad cheer leaders and bollywood songs and to top it all late night parties? This not only pampers our already pampered cricketers but in general diverts them and reduces their intensity and focus.Modi must be taken to task severely for reducing what was once a gentleman’s game to bollywood’s side kick and mistress.He has turnedto put it grossly-cricket into a call girl and he has become its pimp.Anything for money and a bit of cricket-thats the underlying theme of IPL.

It was comeupance at the Stamford Bridge

Now with all the drama that the last of the UEFA semifinals provided I have learnt a valuable lesson- do not switch off a match before its over. By the time the ninety minutes were up and the stoppage time was added I had lost hope. It was like relivening the nightmare. It had been excruciatingly frustrating to see Barcelona stopped by a stubborn Chelsea defense,it had hurt me to see Barca pass like dogs literally without being able to break the Chelsea defense wall,it was repelling to see the huge Chelsea players almost like mountains tower over the dimunitive barca players and most of all as a football fan it stung to not see the beautiful game win. It brought back memories of Barca imploding before and the often touted taunt that the premier league football is the best.I actually agree the EPL as a whole is the best but do their top teams play the best football? I disagree. By the end at ninety minutes, I had been reduced to tears and decided to switch off the match in shear despair.
I remember having an argument with a friend of mine when Argentina lost to Germany the last world cup. In many ways the games were similar but the results reversed.Of course the Germans played a way better brand of football than Chelsea did and Argentina are not nimble pushovers but somewhere down the line the argument remained the same.What makes great teams -Great results or a splendid and mesmerising game?I was somewhat brusquely told off that the concept of beautiful game or joga bonita does not exist. Whats the use if you cant win matches? Now, this argument is absolutely valid.And thats why as football fans you must have ached to see Barcelona win.
Barcelona have been nothing short of phenomenal,there is something ethereal about that team.With their brand of breathtaking football,them contributing to UNICEF,their youth programmes and clinics in third world countries and their astounding belief in playing the game their way under all circumstances and Messi in their ranks,they deserve the title of the best team in the world.They stand in sharp contrast to an unimaginative Chelsea team.The thing is, it was sad enough that Chelsea won Liverpool and had they repeated it against Barca it would have been a horrifying shame.
You cant and should not win matches with eightmen within forty meters of your goal post.And for all their cries of penalties not being allowed I really thought they were none except the Pique handball.Drogba dived the first time and fouled as he came into the box. The second case of a shirt pulling hardly earns penalties these days.And honestly Drogba dived so much that it was disgusting.The refree saw that and that went against him.As for Eto’ its a bit controversial.While his arm was high up in he air,his back was turned away from the ball. When your back is turned away if i am not wrong, you are not given a penalty.This coupled with the fact that the match was minutes from the finish and a final berth was at stake ,the refree probably froze on the penalty.And finally coming to Pique, either the ref did not see it or thought Malouda kicked the ball on to Pique’s arm, either way it was the strongest chance of a penaly for Chelsea. However one must remember that a penalty for Henry was disallowed and many ways it was the stongest case in the two games. So in a sense the teams are even. I am not absolving the refree off some shoddy work, that he sent Abidal off when Anelka fell of his own accord was another instance of bad refreeing.But what I am telling is that Chelsea were sore losers.They had gone to town about decisions having to be accepted after the first leg.It was almost humorous to see Ballack madly chasing the refree.One could understand the frustrations and in a sadistic way I liked the fact that the goal had come irrepairably in the injury time.And that too a fantastic goal one that would have sailed wide 7 times out of ten from Iniesta.
iniestaYou see Iniesta according to me is the keystone that holds Barca. Xavi is the fountain of creativity only when Iniesta is there, Its only with Iniesta’s passing that Messi feeds off him and Xavi, its only then that there is that telepathic connection between the Barca strikers and midfielders.It was divine justice.The man who came off Barca’s youth programme,who neither has the potency of a Henry or the magic of Messi but one who epitomizes Barca’s game of beautiful football with his mesmerizing passing and staunch belief in its effectiveness had to score the golden goal.A better candidate at a better moment could not have been orchestred.

It was sad to see the biased commentary of Sky Sports and its post match analysis was shameful. I have long believed that there is almost a conspiracy by ESPN,Star Sports,Ten and Sky against La Liga and Barca in particular.Now Guus thats way more on target than the one you came up with!Nothing explains why Aston Wiga Vs Bolton would be telecast but not Barca vs Bayern. The worst was when I saw no La liga matches on air while deferred telecast of Japan vs S.Korea in baseball was being aired while Barca took on Lyon.That the most widely viewed sports network in the world would not telecast the best team with one of the best players of all times is nothing short of blasphemy.Its outrageous as a fan and a sport enthusiast and in many ways undermines the very terminology of sports.
For all of english clubs’ pace,power and deftness it does not measure upto the beauty that Barca dishes out. Its only fair that the team that payed football won.However Barca needs to take stock of its defense, Alves in particular and improve on set pieces.But for now we shall bask in the glory of divine comeupance…