In India, sports other than cricket are not considered a serious career. Today, a young school-going boy who is exceptionally good at football and has great enthusiasm for the sport is still discouraged by his parents from playing football for a living. This is because the parents feel that football is not a lucrative career option, as the players don’t earn that much money. So, the child is forced to give up the sport and focus on his education instead.
There are many talented youngsters in our country who have the potential to excel at the international level. For example, consider the sport of tennis, how many of us know that a 16-year old Indian girl from Hyberabad named Sania Mirza won the junior doubles crown at Wimbledon? With a little more encouragement and some more support from back home, this girl has the potential to become a great champion even at the senior level. If the entire nation cheered for her like we do for our cricketers than she would surely be motivated to perform better.
In the field of Hockey, India has always had a competitive team with some world-class performers. Even then, the popularity of hockey has declined due to reasons like lack of funding, very little media attention and so on. Our Hockey team recently gave an excellent performance against world champions Australia on their own home ground, but received hardly any accolades or even acknowledgement of their efforts.
Consider the sport of football; now I am a big football fan and there are many others like me. I watch club football as well as international football like the Football World Cup. But, I still dream of the day when India will be competing in the Football World Cup and I can cheer for India and support our team, instead of just watching Brazil or Argentina play at the world cup finals. Believe me, this is not so farfetched as we have many good footballers here and the Kolkatta-based football club East Bengal won the Asean club championship recently, which shows that there is potential for growth in the field of football as well.
India is a country with great sporting tradition. There were days when we were world champions in Hockey, we won the cricket world cup in 1983, and athletes like P.T.Usha and Milka Singh won medals at the Olympics. I sincerely believe that with some effort and hard work, the glory days will return! The authorities have to take the necessary steps like building grounds and stadiums, setting up youth training programs and providing sufficient funds for the development of sports. The media like television, newspapers, etc should provide better coverage of the all sports so that the public becomes aware of the sporting achievements of Indians the world over. This will make us feel proud to be Indians and we will be inclined to support and cheer for our sportsmen and sportswomen who are representing India in various international competitions.
In conclusion, I would like to say that there is a tremendous untapped potential for the growth of sports in our country and I hope that one day India will become a great sporting nation and a force to reckon with in the international arena!.