Here what do we play sports for?

  • ASIF M D HAJRA
  • Publish Date: Jul 8 2018 9:23PM
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  • Updated Date: Jul 8 2018 9:23PM
Here what do we play sports for?File Photo

This July it’s football everywhere. After all it’s the world cup. As the knockout stage has turned on, everyone around speculates his favourite team to make it to the last 8. I had just finished watching my favourite team win – France beating Argentina – but found it much to the agony of my twin sons, who identify football with Messi. Their hero is disappointed and so are they. And German fans are still in shock and so is their coach– Joachim Low – who’s reportedly considering leaving his post. So is Leo for not being able to help Argentina to make it to the quarter-finals. Even England have made it after some toil.

In between, the news and views about the next one in the Grand Slam – Wimbledon – is on. Serena Williams is the hot pick among females, more for her post-pregnancy preparations than anything else. And for Andy, thousands of Brits are throwing their support behind him at Wimbledon. They want Andy to repeat 2013 and 2016 – for Britain- at least! After all, Wimbledon is a matter of pride for the country. 

And among cricket fans, India’s tour of England is the litmus test of the country’s talent, though the first T20 was lopsided.

This summer is brimming with both team and individual major sports events and it is sport smell in the valley as well. In cricket, Irfan Pathan in the newly held role of J&K cricket’s mentor is busy screening state’s talent for Ranji Trophy and U-23 teams. 

In table tennis, inter-college (men’s) tournament was going on in full swing among 21 teams of affiliated colleges in Directorate of Physical Education in Kashmir University. GDC Leh and GDC Kargil are participating for the first time.

Yet another event – 13th Junior National Soft Tennis championship in which 23 State teams participated just concluded in Srinagar with Madhya Pradesh emerging gold medal winners in both Boys and Girls team events. In SKIS a week-long seminar on martial art discipline Arnis is going on. In football, while top-rated Real Kashmir FC is evaluating its ability to host the upcoming I-League home matches, another premier division football club – JKSPDC XI- is busy enrolling professional footballers for selection trials aimed at inducing the best available talent in the team for the upcoming season.

At the individual level, while water queen Bilkis Mir has got another accolade in being selected by Indian Kayaking & Canoeing Association as coach, only international cricketer of the State and skipper J&K Ranji Trophy team Parvez Rasool had the prestige to receive the BCCI’s Lala Amarnath Award for season 2016-17 for his best all-round performance in Ranji Trophy that season. 

Emerging cricketer Ahmad Banday, playing for Bury Cricket Club, has slammed a handsome knock of 173 in England. 

In Wushu, Rajinder Singh and Pradeep Kumar made the state proud by securing a Bronze Medal (in below 90 Kg category) and a Silver Medal (in below 70 Kg category) respectively.

Experts say that at global level sports events, countries participate to establish their ‘superiority’ and showcase a country’s ability for which they pump in great amount of funding and training into preparing athletes. In fact, in present times, sports are taken as a moral equivalent of war through which countries strive to emphasize their political and economic supremacy without using any weaponry.

FIFA World Cup is more than another soccer event. It is road to resurrection of national image. At FIFA World Cup 2018, although Germany has failed to defend its title, yet – one of the biggest colonizers in history - England - are upbeat to repeat 1966. For them it is the best opportunity to revive their past glory - at least on soccer front.

And for a country like Saudi Arabia, which is in the process of radical reform to realign its stance, also found Russia 2018 campaign as an image building platform but lost the opportunity too early though.

Although global sports events like world cups, Olympics etc. are marketed as being ‘above politics’, yet a country like China which won the highest number of gold medals (51) in Beijing 2008 Olympics, used the event to reinforce its claim of surpassing US as the most powerful nation in the world both in sports as well as economics.

And here, what do we play sports for?

For players (playing for departmental/institutional teams), is it for a permanent job what they are craving for or excel as professional sportsperson and to make the State proud? For administrators at the highest level, is it to create a ‘feel good’ factor to capitalize on its political ramifications or establish a broad base for nurturing talent so that the State brand is reckoned high? Do we have to be a special-category in every arena every time? How long would we measure performance in terms of the number of photographs clicked during sports events?

Whatever the short-term reasons, long-term goals should focus on creating the State brand at national platforms. Mass participation programmes need to be replaced by performance measurement systems – both for the athletes as well as coaches, trainers and administrators. It has to be Carrot and Stick! If Spain can afford to sack its national football team coach two days before the team’s opening game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, can we not weed out the dead wood?

Above all, we cannot earn gold medals in every game. Let’s capitalize on our core competences.

 

(The writer can be reached at asifmdhajra@outlook.com)