Me on The Guardian: About Premier League Fans from India

i made this comment about Indian Premier League Fans – and how you can tell from when they are following football by the team they support. It was published on the Guardian’s Matchday MBM – for the North London Derby [WHICH ARSENAL WON! AWESOME!]

Check 5:01 PM BST – Click Here.

Shom Biswas offers this explanation: “You can understand when the Indian person started watching football, from which club he follows. The cable channels started showing the Premier League in the late 90’s – Arsenal and Man United were the big dogs then. So an Arsenal fan is one who got into Premier League Football in the late 90s. A Chelsea fan is one who started during the early Abramovich days, a Liverpool fan either the old fogey who used to read about the exploits of the Dalglish/Rush days in the newspapers, or the ones who have ‘that night in Istanbul’ as their first football experience, and a Man City fan … well…

 

“Anyone can be a Man United fan, they have been top dogs for long.”

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Japan- football’s next powerhouse? (Guardian Comment)

Now you do know that yesterday, Italy beat Japan in a thrilling 4-3 at the Confederations Cup. And you know that Japan played very well.

And you also know that the Guardian Online comment section is the treasure trove for football information. So here’s an amazing comment about Japanese football from Allisgrace, Guardian poster; about Japan as a footballing nation. I remember reading about the start of the J-League, in 1992. And look where they have come in the last 20 years. There is indeed hope for Indian football, with proper planning and structure. Here’s an excerpt;

Actually, Japanese football is a true miracle in football history. Their professional league was just set up barely 2 decades ago (i.e. 1992). Japanese are a people so organised, patient and determined. From day one, realizing their physical constraints, they decided they should learn to play football in a style largely based on technique than physicality. So they chose Brazilian football. By recruiting top Brazilian players (e.g. Dunga) and coaches (e.g Zico) to play in their league, they gradually learned everything they wanted. Only 6 years after they first played professional football, they already qualified their first WC in 1998 and since then made appearances in every WC.

Over the last 20 years, they kept producing top players with excellent skills like Nakata and Nakamura. But due to cultural and language barriers, most of their players seldom went overseas. So in their past WCs they usually lacked experience and didn’t do well and were overlooked by the world. But finally in the past few years, top European leagues, especially the Bundesliga, seemed to begin to find the jewels in the abundant talents of Japanese players, who are always technically sound, disciplined and hard working. With most players of their current squad playing in top European leagues week in week out, it’s not exaggerated to say they will be a dark horse next year.

But some of their problems are obvious. First of all they are still, comparatively speaking, not athletic enough, which means they could struggle playing against very physical teams. Last match against Brazil is an example. But a more clear evidence is to watch them playing against Korea, their long time rival in Asia, who play a very physical game. When they met, Japan usually get the upper hand but struggle to beat them.

Another weakness is their inability to close a game. Like the match we just witnessed, they created a lot of chances but couldn’t score enough. In fact, the devoid of a world class striker has been a problem haunting them for years.

Lastly, psychologically they are still not solid enough when they face the traditional football powerhouses. Being a rising power, they more or less still don’t believe they are able to win them, particularly when they face Brazil, their footballing master. In recent years, we have seen some progress as they got a record of beating Argentina and France. But they are just friendlies. A breakthrough win in a major tournament against one of the superpowers will boost their confidence and self-belief to another level. When that match comes into being, they surely will be the rising sun of the Far East shinning in a new football landscape.

Aamra-i Mohun Bagan

I have been raving about this movie, and tripping on this song for a while… it isn’t a masterpiece or anything, but to a born Mohun Bagan boy (a baganboy, i.e.) this is like the nineth symphony.

Hiralal Mukherjee; Bhuti Sukul, Rev. Sudhir Chatterjee, Manomohan Mukherjee, Rajen Sengupta, Nilmadhav Bhattacharya, Kanu Roy, Habul Sarkar, Abhilash Ghosh, Bijoydas Bhaduri, Sibdas Bhaduri (c)…….

Thank you.

    Aamrai Mohun Bagan

Amader surjyo Maroon
Nadhir taan shobuj ghashey
Amader khunj-le pabey
Sona-y lekha itihas-ey

Amader surjo Maroon…

Amader roktey khela
Khelar chholey biplobee besh
Aamra-i kokhono mukh
Kokhono dol kokhono desh..

Jonmechi mathaye niye
Khelowaari porowaana
buker ei koljey boley
Lorai koro, haar na maana

Jonmechi mathaye niye…

Dekho oi orhe nishaan
khela-r akaash cho’war sopan
Aamra-i Mohun Bagan…. Mohun Bagan.

Beparowa khelar sahosh
Khelar bibek khelar nobab
Aamrai bhin-deshi’der
Birudh-dhey ei desher jobab

Jonmecchi….

Paul watch – trial with Vancouver

Subrata Paul, the most talented Indian footballer of this generation, has bagged a trial with the MLS club Vancouver Whitecaps. Is this the Jeev Milkha moment of Indian football?

From goal.com.

In another piece of positive news for Indian football, media reports have confirmed that India and Pune FC goalkeeper Subrata Paul will be leaving soon for a trial with Canadian outfit Vancouver Whitecaps. The Whitecaps will be making their MLS debut in 2011, and are looking for reinforcements to bolster their squad.

Read the rest here.

Previous posts on Indian players and the MLS here and here.

SC19 watch – hattrick for the reserves (and a Paul caveat)

Playing for the reserves, Sunil Chhetri (who is SC19 now), has scored a hatrick in his second outing for KCW, for the second team however (click here).

Also, check the website (kcwizards.com) for some laughs:

The Kansas City Wizards just became the most supported club in Major League Soccer. Maybe even the world.

Follow more KCW news here:

KCW on Facebook.

KCW on Twitter.

KCW blog.

p.s. Subrata Paul, who in my opinion is the best talent of this generation, is thinking to go the Sunil way. I don’t believe much in goal.com, but hey, one can hope (click here). And Paul is good, really good.

Previous Chhetri to KCW post here.

While you were not looking…

Yesterday might just have been one of the most important in the annals of Indian sport. And you might have completely missed it.

For all fans of Indian football, for all of us, this might just have been the big day. Sunil Chhetri, the Indian striker is set to join USA’s MLS club Kansas City Wizards, reported TOI **. Here’s an excerpt:

India international and Dempo’s striker Sunil Chhetri is set to join USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS) club Kansas City Wizards.
The Delhi lad attended trials at the club earlier this month and now Dempo sources have revealed that Chhetri will be joining the Wizards, who start their MLS campaign next month.

If you were reading this blog (and all my Indian Football based sloganeering), you would know that I have been saying for a while now that it is not ideal for an Indian player to start plying his trade at the English league, a la Baichung Bhutia at Bury FC. The Premiership is still far too good for any Indian player (hope that changes soon, however), and the lower English leagues are brutal, fearsome places… Watch a few Coca-Cola Championship matches and you will know that the emphasis is not on skill (where the Indian players might be able to match up) but on the twin virtues of strength and speed. The matches are frenetic, long-ball duels and the defenders relish kicking lumps off the opposing strikers. The Championship is faster than the Premiership, and while the lower leagues are slower, they are definitely even more brutal… and I doubt if anyone in Indian football has the speed and strength to last the English lower leagues. Baichung, the most talented of his generation, could not crack it. The Segunda Division of La Liga, and Spain itself, would be too large a cultural gap to bridge. Plus, do the Indian players match up, skill-wise? I had always been a proponent of the Dutch Eredivisie or the Japanese J-League as the best places for the Indian players to try their luck at. They are fairly large, fairly important, and the best of Indian talents could have coped (Baichung certainly could have, I wager). I completely missed mentioning the MLS. It’s exciting, new and like most things American, well-structured; from what I have read about it. There is a small, but passionate fan following, and the standards are high.

Also, if you have read a post that I had written about the class barriers in Indian football, and if you check Chhetri’s profile in wiki, you would see that he is a curious case of an apparently middle-class big-city kid who has happened to make it big in Indian football. There will be very little language barrier. English, and a level of cultural adaptability are major factors in a player settling down at a foreign location (definitely in the US), but Chhetri is fluent and should be able to settle well. In fact, lack of cultural adaptability was the major reason proffered by a football-crazy neighbor in Kolkata, when I suggested that Subrata Paul (who is in my opinion the best Indian player of the current generation) should try out in bigger leagues outside India.

This is the new dawn, folks. The times, they are a’changing…. Help them take shape. Friends, colleagues and facebook/twitter buddies in the United States, if you are in Kansas, or are staying close to the other MLS stadia, please do visit the Kansas City Wizards matches. The football is good, Kansas seems to be a fairly good team, and an Indian boy will be playing for them. Support Chhetri, and you will be supporting Indian football.

** While the news has come up on TOI, there has been no mention of the news on the official Kansas City Wizards website. I am fairly convinced that the news is true, though. (Edit: he is released by Dempo to play for KCW)

*ps. Blogbharti-ed. Thanks, Sudipta.

Ten Reasons Why One Should Follow Indian Football

One of the topics closest to my heart, sports-wise.

Read the article. A bit of cricket-bashing, which I do not support, but please read points 3, 4, 7, 8 and 10. And point 9 says it all really. Also, if people in England can be proud to support Huddersfield, Preston, Oxford United and the likes, why can’t you? Supporting Man United and supporting ITI or HAL need not be mutually exclusive.

_______________________________________________

Ten Reasons Why One Should Follow Indian Football

http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/2292/editorials/2009/12/02/1661426/ten-reasons-why-one-should-follow-indian-football

It is becoming a gradually more evident fact that the biggest market for European football outside Europe is definitely India. People in India are crazy about football. Not only do they keep updated information about every club and its players, but some even spend the extra buck to buy their favourite team’s merchandise.

Yet the conditions of football and its fans in India are not much to speak about, and one needs to realize the need to follow football in India rather than wasting time and energy behind the European delight.

1) Why Follow The Crowd?

Isn’t supporting Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea a very common thing nowadays? Why do you want yourself to feel lost in the crowd? There is no big deal if you can memorize the shirt numbers of the players at Liverpool, Arsenal, or the like. Do something new, get an identity, follow Indian football, and stand out from the crowd!

2) Be The Change

I am sure many of you have seen the movie Rang De Basanti. In a famous scene from India’s Oscar entry, the protagonist urges the youth of India to get itself involved in the functioning of the country and change the things from the grassroots level. Here is our appeal to the knowledgeable youth of the country to stop criticizing Indian football. Be the change, start following the game in India, and let us know how you feel you can contribute to take the game to the next level.

3) Age-Old Traditions

Indian Football has lots of historical moments to cheer about. In India, we have the third-oldest football tournament in the world, the IFA Shield, which shall be completing its 125th year very soon. One of our top clubs, Mohun Bagan, is more than a century old and is the oldest club in Asia. The Mohun Bagan-East Bengal Derby is one of the most exciting football derbies in the world. It’s got a great history, and even started before El Clasico came into existence. Don’t you think you should be a part of these traditions? Why waste time? Start following Indian football right away!

4) Stars In Your Reach

People in India are crazy about stars like David Beckham, Luis Figo or Zizou, among others. However, getting even an autograph of theirs is a near-impossible task. Meanwhile, Sunil Chhetri, Steven Dias, Mehrajuddin Wadoo and loads of other footy stars in India are waiting for you to approach them. So guys, start following them and you never know, they could even become your friends in the near future. Surely then, you will have something more to show off to your friends!

5) Duty & Responsibility

India is boasting about the rise of an educated youth. Today’s youth is socially proactive. Young Indians are never shy to raise their voice against corruption or pay respect to the National Anthem. So don’t you think it is more of a responsibility and a duty to pay attention to and care about what’s happening in the football arena in your country?

6) Enough Of Cricket

I’m sure that you hate news of Dhoni’s snazzy new car or Yuvraj singh’s alcoholic escapades in a public night club! Its high time that we switch from cricket to football. Cricket is not even an Olympic sport after all. There is lot more on offer for a football fan in India rather than watching silly cricket matches for 5 days at a stretch. It’s easy, too. Just as you switched from Orkut to Facebook, switching from cricket to football is even more simple!

7) Check It Out!

There is a phrase in Hindi, “Try karne mein kya hai?” That’s what I’m trying to say here. Just try supporting and following Indian football for at least a week or say for a month and then say how you feel about it. If it’s too boring, fair enough. You can then skip Indian football action for your entire lifetime. But don’t be surprised if it captures your heart, and I’ll take no credit at all!

8) Misconceptions To Be Cleared

There are many misconceptions regarding the world’s favourite sport in India. The most common notion people have is that it’s too boring! Believe me when I say that Indian Football is fun. We have one of the most exciting leagues in Asia. Even last season, the I-League had a dramatic end, where the league champions were decided in the last round of the league.

9) Be A True Football Fan

If you believe yourself to be a football fan then become a true football fan and follower. There is no room for partiality. In no way can you be partial and follow only European football. Follow football in India and try to find out on the reasons why we are lagging behind. Moreover, following football in India and gathering information about the game here will boost your general awareness which could even help you in your next competitive exams!

10) Indian Football Needs You

Indian football needs fans, more and more fans to discuss its little but significant success stories. Even minnows in the English football league have their set of dedicated fans so why can’t you be a fan of the football in your own country?

Rahul Sengupta (Goal.com)