An Indian Story Of Football : Pele to Messi

If you ask any crazy fans here in India why they support foreign countries in World cup they will give you a mixed reactions. Bhaiya I always watches international football just because of the players like Messi and Ronaldo and how could I possibly avoid them in their international tournaments as well so I support their respective national teams as well. Now what one could also read on the behalf of this statement is that Indian football team is something that doesn’t even exist for them. Even though India do have recent gains in international stage the future looks vague and unclear. Even Sunil Chethri posted the video requesting fans to rally behind the team India for next match. This situation prevails for decades and is a result of mismanagement and corrupted beaurcy and never a result of their performance which on the same hand can only be achieved with training and facilities set up in accordance with the quality of international standard. Until the day comes I quote former FIFA president’s words ‘India is a sleeping giant’.

Ever since the 50s football was an obsession for Indian’s especially in Kerala where the Portuguese rule in 16th century resulted in the widespread interest for the sport which peaked at an era of Mardona and Pele in 70s and 80s. What happened then was the result of large fan sects supporting various European and Latin American teams began to take shape. The influence of such great icons of football played the pivotal role in creating some hard core fan bases here in India. Not just in Bengal and Kerala but throughout the country as well. Iconic legends like Baichung Butia and IM Vijayan played significant roles as they stole many hearts showing great promise for the future of football in India. India competing in a world cup is almost a century old dream but today it looks less dazzling than those golden days of Indian football. The major reason behind the fall of supporters after 70s and 80s was due to shift in interest from football to cricket. By the time India won it’s first Cricket world cup in 1982 people started to take cricket seriously. But when Maradona did magic in 1986 with two legendary goals Argentina fans across the globe exploded and it can be echoed ever since. During the time of world cup banners take it’s place at each and every corner of nation and people gets crowded in front of television screen to see the matches live. It thus gave a huge opportunity for the young generation to come up with interest in football despite the efforts to revive national football to that of international quality. The recent milestone by Sunil Chethri equaling most international goals with Lionel Messi at 68 open door for a possible look into future of Indian football a future with Indians playing possible worldcup one day.

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