Volunteers Say

In 2000 it was a bronze for 1 billion and in 2004 it was silver for 1.2 billion. I'm not talking about per capita income but about India's medal tally in the Summer Olympics. I remember the furor that it had created with papers flashing the so-called shameful news that with a population of over 1 billion we could only manage a bronze medal in the international sports arena. But what has changed since then. Now at the verge of the 2008 Olympics how well prepared are we to take on the challenge (read improve our medal tally)?

Are Indians biologically incapable of doing well in sports? I don't think so. India's medal tally in field hockey in the summer Olympics has been nothing short of glorious. The team has won gold medals in 1928,1932,1936,1948,1952,1956,1964 and in 1980. One silver and 2 bronze (one of them won by the women's team) when we didn't manage to get the gold. India is No.1 in the medal table for hockey. But how long do we rest on our glorious past. What is it that's going wrong?

It’s not as if we don't have good players. There have been greats like Dhyan Chand and Prakash Padukone. The present is also studded with stars like Gopichand, Leander Paes, and Sania Mirza to name a few. So what is that even though we have the stuff that is required, we just aren't getting there? Is it that we do not have the drive? Not a plausible excuse according to me. Why? Because if someone does not have the drive then we wouldn't have cases of doping (in perspective being the recent case of the ASI weightlifter who has been tested positive for performance enhancing drugs).

So you must be thinking, 'Go on big shot, Mr. Know-it-all, tell us What the problem is?’ Frankly the answer is, I don't know. But I can make some educated guesses.

One. The system. 'Oh really? Tell me about it?’ All of you might have seen some American sport movie. Seen the recruiters from University going around trying to catch the best the land has on offer. These chaps are called scouts. They are paid, by the University to search the towns and villages for students from high schools who are good in sports and offer them a course under the University, here's the catch word 'FOR FREE!!!’ These seats have a very catchy term too, 'SPORTS SCHOLARSHIPS'. Now you might be asking 'so what's the big deal?’ Here comes the big deal.

Think about one family around you, whom you know at a personal level who have a kid at home, who's either in the 10th or 12th standard. What do you usually listen to when you go to his house? I'll make it easy for you. Here are the options:
  1. My son is going for tuitions to the best coaching class in town.
  2. We hope he scores well so that he can choose the science stream.
  3. Which branch of Engineering is the best to choose?
  4. Which college is the best?
  5. All of the above.
Does the kid get a chance to choose a career in sports? I really doubt it. The system we have in place here does not promote sports. Except for the defence forces, some public sector companies and a few sporting clubs that recruit sportsmen, there aren't many avenues for the true sportsmen. And this too is too little and too late, because catch 'em young is a phrase that can never be over-emphasized in the scenario of sports. If we get 10 sportsmen at the employable level, think about how many we could have got if we looked for them at the high school level.

Think about it!



Please find a poem composed by me as contribution for the next issue of Vigrr.

I wake up every morning, and I dream to fly
A small boy from a big town seaside

What he wanted in life he couldn't decide
A detective, an engineer, all in him reside
I have set my sights on the sky.
I have set my sights on the sky.

Studied a bit and had a good time
To the life ahead he didn't give a dime
Didn't look back at what he had left behind
I have set my sights on the sky.

Got a job and saw money in sight
Didn't know that the future, a miserable plight
Dreams still pursued thought they didn't take flight
I have set my sights on the sky.

Wings clipped and grounded after the first try
Shocked to the core, and he thought it was all a lie
Picked up the pieces and heaved a sigh
I have set my sights on the sky.

Tahir Abdulla.
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