Let the Games begin – an Indian sports fan’s demand to the new “Sarkaar”!

Narendra Modi has “Maxwell”-ed the Congress and India is happy. At least that’s the reaction I fathom from the numerous Facebook updates and tweets that have been flooding my timeline since morning.

Am I happy?

I don’t know, in fact, I don’t have an idea whether the change of rule in India is for the better or for the worse. Hang on! Before you start taking my case and stamp me as an “Indian who doesn’t care”, let me explain.

Though I belong from a heavily opinionated political family, I don’t have any political alliances, nor do I enter into any debate around it. Not that I don’t understand it; I don’t have the expertise and it simply doesn’t interest me. I am a selfish individual and all I have ever wanted from any government is not to poke their nose into my business. (Also err…make marijuana legal….but meh!).

I am not overtly patriotic. I don’t take part in candle marches, nor does my eyes tear up at the state of the people of my country. However, my blood boils with national fervor whenever a group of men/ women step on to any sporting arena wearing the blue jersey.

“Oh! Not sports again!” – I know most of your reactions. I am a sports guy and most of India doesn’t really take me seriously. Forget India, most of my friends don’t take me seriously because, in a nation that’s struggling with corruption, malnutrition, economic issues, and basic social problems, I am concerned about something that’s for the privileged.

But one man took “sports” seriously and he showed what it can do in the development of a nation. For the uninitiated, am talking about Nelson Mandela. Mandela was perhaps the only leader who saw the potential sport can play in the development of a nation. When he came in charge after thirty years in prison, he was handed a nation torn apart with various socio-economic issues.

However, his first challenge was to unify the nation even before he could think about development. What did he do? He picked the most popular sport in the country and brought the nation under one umbrella.

How? Go watch “Invictus”, if you still haven’t.

India doesn’t have the problems Mandela had. We are a progressing nation. We are a multi-skilled nation and we are going up the charts at a tremendous pace. Indians are everywhere; ranging from information technology to any scientific innovation, you will find at least one Indian in the core team.

But we are miles behind in sports and this time I want something from the government. We are a very strong cricketing nation and I proudly say that. What we have achieved in cricket is beyond description and we are growing stronger with every passing year. But our sporting achievements end there. There are a few fleeting once-in-a-blue-moon Mary Kom moments but as a sporting nation, we don’t stand anywhere on the global map.

Whether you like it or not, the most powerful and the progressive nations are very strong in sports – the United States dominate the Olympics, so does China. Australia and the UK are monster challengers in almost every sport and Spain, a country as small as Maharashtra, is a top ranker in prime sporting categories.

Okay, they have the financial muscle but turn your attention to Brazil – it has become the favoured destination of most sporting events. Pick up any African country, they outrank India in most sports.

Is India really that pathetic?

We are not bad at all. We just don’t take ourselves seriously and think about jobs rather than careers. We are a scared nation and we don’t risk ourselves to invest in our talented ones. We are just happy being mediocre.

So, my first request to Mr. newly elected Prime Minister is to break the mindset and remind all Indians that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Let’s convert India into a physically fit nation that can take on and compete with the biggest sporting forces in the world. It’s not easy and by no means am expecting miracles but luckily opportunities are banging on India’s doors.

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Start with the FIFA u-17 football World Cup, 2017 – undeniably the biggest deal in Indian sport in recent years. It has landed onto India’s lap unexpectedly and this government has three solid years to work on it. Let’s not make it into another Commonwealth Games, instead surprise the world with a spectacular event.

Back the Indian Super League and produce more Bengaluru FCs – it’s high time India stopped cheering for the Messis and Ronaldos and started applauding Rahim Nabi’s crunching tackles.

Get Formula One back in India. It was a shame that India lost one of its crowning glories last year due to petty financial disputes. I hope this government realises the potential of the sport and forces it back into the country, especially, when Force India is doing remarkably well.

Get boxing back on track – last Olympics, the Indians pugilists punched way above their weight to showcase the reservoir of talent India possesses in boxing. No, we can never produce a Md. Ali or a Mike Tyson but we surely can get Vijender Singh back punching the guts out of his opponent rather than gyrating his hips to a real “Fugly” song.

Invest in badminton – Saina, Sindhu, Ashwini, Jwala, Kashyap and the list goes on. Last IBL showed India’s prowess in badminton. It has to be India’s next big happening sport. Get investors put in their money because only awarding “Arjuna Awards” isn’t going to cut it at the highest level.

Produce the next Leander Paes. Once upon a time, we used to beat the biggest bad-asses of tennis in Davis Cups and also won the bronze at the Olympics in tennis. Since then, the Indian tennis story has taken the wrong route. Sania Mirza’s marriage and Leander- Bhupathi’s break-up has hogged the limelight instead of pushing the Somdevs to the next level.

Hockey – time for the ‘national’ sport to stand up and they don’t need the crutches, supply them with a strong back bone.

We are an intelligent country but where’s the next Vishy Anand? Instead, Norway produces a freaky brainy kid who beats our maestro. It’s time that a few IIT aspirants concentrated more on the chequered board rather than matrix calculations from M.L. Khanna.

Work with the BBCI and utilise their potential – stop crying about its success and start working with them. The relationship between Indian politics and the Indian cricket board is that of greed. Every politician wants to be a part of it because of the money it churns out. BCCI is a bully and it’s corrupt. But that is India’s biggest advantage. BCCI is a lot of things but it has never fooled around with Indian cricket.

Yes, it makes an obscene amount of money through questionable means but they care about cricket and have invested a lot in the game. So, strike a partnership with the strong lads and make the Indian team the strongest in the world.

Those are my demands from the new government. India is on the brink of a sporting revolution and THIS is the chance for India to unleash it’s true potential on the world map of sports. But will anyone care? Will these requirements be ticked off?

I know, the government has its plates full and has to build bridges, dams, houses but if their can’t tap in the passion of sport in this country and build us into a sporting super power, they will be as useless to me as their predecessors. Congratulations Mr. Modi but if you can’t act on these demands, “maaf karna Sarkaar”, I simply don’t care.

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