A few days ago, India broke its 64 winless streak against Myanmar as they won 1-0 against the home team. The match was the first of the Indian National Team at the AFC Cup Qualifiers. The match which wasn’t the best by the Indian players however ended on a positive note as captain of the national side, Sunil Chhetri scored in the dying minutes of the game with an assist by Udanta Singh. This ensured they gathered all three points. India last met the side from Myanmar in 2013 where they lost by a single goal and although looking lethargic at times, the Indian side got the job done.
India has had a good run in the last year in respect to international friendlies and although winning recently against Cambodia 3-2, they need to keep winning as they did against Myanmar when the points matter. What is disheartening to see if how little attention the AFC Cup Qualifiers have gotten. It is a big feat for India who is marching paces ahead in the last few years in the world of football. Our FIFA ranking has relatively improved and with the U-17 World Cup slated to be held in October in the country, it is remarkable how little main stream media refuse to put the light on football (apart from a few papers). Football is a sport that is watched by billions of people and until the 1950’s and 60’s, India was still competing on the same level as the top footballing nations in the world, but unlike the other countries where the game was developed better, we lagged behind as the development of the sport stood still. There was no decline but there was also no improvement. However, recently, we have had much to cheer about as new policies with the aim to further the sport have begun with its focus on grassroots development. As to how successful they are will be yet to be seen but it is a step in the right direction.
Coming again to how India’s win against Myanmar did not get its much deserved attention, the focus however that is put on cricketers everytime there is a spate of some sort or news of who they are dating constantly bombard newsfeeds. These so called “sports” news get more importance than actual sports worthy news. The only time football gets mentioned is during the Indian Super League. Even the I-League has been largely ignored. This says enough about how football is always secondary. Unlike cricket where a lot of focus is given to international tournaments, the build up to the AFC Cup Qualifiers was more or less missing with little importance given to it. With its ever increasing fan base, there should be a constant spotlight put on the sport. It is not only people with interests in the sport who lose out but also millions of fans who would like to hear more on what is going on with Indian football.
-By Jessica Passah for TNT- The Northeast Today
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Courtesy: Indian Express