The Croatian success story in the recently concluded FIFA World Cup 2018 should be an eye opener to those who are managing sports in the country. The lesson it has taught is that neither size nor population matters if one has the resolve to be the best. Sadly that resolve is missing from the Indian sporting arena. Those who are managing sports in our country are more interested about foreign jaunts rather than harnessing budding talents. There is no dearth of fund for them to be present at various international meets. But when the question of sending our sportspersons to participate in those events arises, they talk about lack of fund, government apathy, etc.
How sports is being run in the country can be judged from this single incident. Within a month’s time, Asian Games will be held in Jakarta. All Asian countries will compete in that multi-discipline event which is often referred to as Asian Olympics. But this time, despite sending a big contingent for the games, Indian Olympic Association has decided against sending our football team on the pretext that the team would not achieve anything meaningful. So there is no need of wasting precious foreign exchange.
But the fact remains that after a slump in performance, Indian football team is doing well at present. After decades, India has qualified for Asian Football Championship (Asia Cup) to be held next year. So our football team could gain valuable experiences by participating in this competition. Besides, India recently participated in Under-17 World Cup. That team could also be sent to provide them the necessary exposure. But IOA and All India Football Federation bosses in their own wisdom decided otherwise. As a result, two-time champion India will be missing from action this time.
As a matter of fact, we have no vision of making India a sporting nation. On papers we have many policies and programmes. But our track record is pathetic when it comes to implementation. Every sporting laurel that the country has earned in the past came because of individual brilliance. Starting from Abhinav Bindra to the latest craze of the nation Hima Das, all tasted success at the international level without much help from sporting bodies.
The functioning of our sporting bodies can best be described by mentioning the fact that while Badminton Federation of India could not produce any champions, the academy ran by former player Gopichand is producing quality players one after another. Saina Nehawal, P. V. Sindhu, H. S. Pronoy, is all products of the said academy. Same is the case in other sporting disciplines too. While sportspersons are toiling hard to make the country proud, they are being backstabbed by their own associations.
In such a scenario, it will be foolish even to think about imitating the success of Croatia. The writing is clear on the wall. Even with an abundance of talent, India will always remain at the bottom in sports, till the time we change our mindset.