India is the 7th largest country in the world. We have a population which exceeds the number 1.2 billion. It is a very huge and diverse country. A crossroads of numerous cultures, you would expect India to be one of the leading nations in fields. But sadly that is not the case. There is no denying the fact that we are one of the best nations in terms of academics. I will go one step further and say we are the best. There is not one multinational company or a research institute which doesn’t have an Indian at one of the top spots. But what is the point when you are going to be the butt of all the jokes the world makes about nerds, geeks and people with no life.
Cricket is a sport which is worshipped in India. Every kid wants to be the next Sachin Tendulkar. I don’t want to sound as a pessimist but just try and calculate the odds. 1 in 500 millions. Come on! For that you should have been practicing cricket since you were in your mother’s womb. Almost all the other sports are practically ignored. To an extent people play football but there is no scope for footballers at present. There is no motivation. We have created such a mentality among ourselves that we don’t touch anything where we don’t see an opportunity to become rich. This has made us all very much indulged into cricket and ignore all the other sports.
The main reason for our failure is our education system. From day one we are being groomed to become the next greatest engineer, doctor, mathematician etc. Even if you excel in sports in schools there is no opportunity for you to showcase your talent at the next level. The encouragement given decrease as your age increases. People expect you to be more series academically. You hear dialogues like,” Enough of this now, start concentrating on your studies”. In countries like USA, top colleges beg you to come join their colleges if you are good at any sports. They offer you whatever you want. Sports is, basically, an integrated part of their whole learning process. But in our country, schools barely have a 30 min Physical Education period once a week. Half of the colleges don’t even have a proper ground. It becomes more about attendance once you join college, especially the engineering once. The college doesn’t allow you to go out for any tournaments. Parents also a play an important role. Many parents put their kids in entrance exams preparation classes at the age of 13, not giving the child the enough time to develop completely.
The other reason is the apathy shown by us to people involved in sports other than cricket. We tell that cricket is succeeding only because of the money BCCI has. BCCI wasn’t always rich. So why don’t we invest in other sports? What is stopping us? We hear stories of athletes being mistreated. Stranded outside airport. No proper staying facilities. No proper appreciation shown by the government and people. Mainstream media ignoring them to concentrate on whom Virat Kohli is dating. Even when they are given due attention, it is only for a day or two. After that adios amigo! How many of us remember Ronjan Sodhi? Krishna Poonia, any idea? These are the people who made us proud in the international stage and we gave them nothing! Who would want to play for such a thankless country? Why don’t we start giving importance of to every sport? It’s not as if we have dearth of talent. Just go and stand in a school ground during lunch hour, you will understand what I mean.
Institutes like Tata sports academies have taken initiative to promote sports and give scholarships to worthy people. The government recently announced a plan to build sports colleges all over the country. We are a large country; we have enough talent, so let us sit down and think how to harness this talent.