Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Summer of '10

Pardon me for plagiarising the title of this post from the iconic Bryan Adams number but I felt it was the catchiest one to describe a period of metamorphosis in the Indian Football circles.

To start with, a tough draw at Qatar condemned us to a potential thrashing come 2011, the pull-out of one of India’s most professional clubs and now the news of Bob Houghton wanting to put in his papers. As I pointed out in my last post Bob has been very influential in changing the fortunes of our team.

Starting with the Mahindra pullout, the move was out of the blue. Nobody expected one of the most professional football setups in India go down like this. Mahindra has (or rather used to have) the best facilities among football clubs in India: Youth Academy, Youth Teams, Great Training facilities et all . Obviously it all came at a price and i suppose the Mahindra group started taking it as a burden in the recent past. What baffles me is the whole concept of institutional teams. Who in the world would support a team called Air India expect maybe it’s own employees. I don’t see why corporate like Mahindra took up sports as a Corporate Social Responsibility rather than a potential gold mine when there is a club next door(Pune FC) which makes a hell of a lot of money out of merchandising and gate revenue (a decent crowd gathers to watch their home matches).There are teams like Lajong which brings Shillong to a standstill whenever they play at home, but then any team from the northeast institutional or not would do the same. What really ticked me off was a tweet by Anand Mahindra saying “So many angry voices lamenting our decision wonder where they were when we needed support at our matches).. Well then Mr. Mahindra, what exactly have you done to promote your team in Mumbai?? Why could you not have named it after Mumbai or some part of it?? We say a crop of professional fan based clubs coming up recently(Lajong, Mumbai FC, Pune FC) and I hope there are more to come. Hopefully corporate have taken note of the success of Pune FC and Lajong. And what do I think of Mahindra’s future youth development project?? Baloney!!that project is never going to see the light of the day..

The draw at the AFC Asian Cup 2011 has been less than kind to us. After all 2 continental powerhouses and a team that had a heartbreaking near miss at the World Cup Qualifiers would leave even the most optimistic Indian football fan strained at the prospect of legendary ass-kickings. But on the other hand if we play at our best we can give them a scare. A good showing would spike the interest in the team internationally, giving our players a chance to play abroad. We have about 8 months and if we leave our team to Bob (provided he stays) anything can happen. But is the AIFF circus goes on as usual , I fear we will submit without a whimper..

Finally, the news of Bob’s unhappiness with the jokers at the AIFF has left me very disturbed. The issue has created a Pro-Bob and an Anti-Bob section in the AIFF. The Pro-Bob faction (that has the interest of the game in mind) says the persistence of a few losers at the AIFF in rubbing Bob the wrong way is succeeding. That faction is keen to derail every proposal Bob made to the AIFF (friendlies,Youth Development Projects etc) only because of their differences with Bob...I only hope it dosen’t come to the point where the greatest coach in the history of the Indian football team resigns and Praful Patel intervenes to make sure Bob doesn’t leave..