‘The sleeping giant’ of Asia showing signs of rising
Not Barca, Bayern, Madrid Bundesliga club Hoffenheim is making a difference to Indian football.
India has been mentioned as the ‘sleeping demon’ by ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.
New boss Gianni Infantino also made a visit to India during the promotions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Goa which is scheduled to take place in the country later this year.
Not only that, famous European teams like Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid all have tried to set-up academies here to not only tap the Indian market but the young and unripe talents as well. But, after all that, the harsh reality is no matter how much glory other sports bring for the country, India remains a ‘cricket-crazy’ nation and not ‘sports-crazy’.
Even after the Indian Super League’s emergence India has failed to do something spectacular internationally. Well, sadly, it’s the ignorance of other sports and lack of infrastructure. Football, a sport that is perhaps the second most popular sport in India doesn’t have half the backing of corporates or the following like cricket has. Because of that, there was little or no investment until the ISL emerged three years back.
Still, the good facilities have failed to reach all corners of the country. Places like Northeast India remain untapped despite the immense potential it has to offer. Recently, a nine-year-old boy named Chandan Boro was in the news for making it big and boarding a flight to Germany for six years of training in Bittburg, Germany. Born to a very humble family from a remote village in the district of Udalguri close to the Indo -Bhutan border known as Harisinga, the kid made it big after impressing the coaches in a training camp held by Tata Trusts, Mumbai. The camp was carried forward under the Football Development Program in partnership with U Sports Mumbai and Germany under U Dream Football for selection of budding football talents under 15. The “Tata Trust” organization also has a tie-up with Bundesliga club TSG Hoffenheim, where Chandan is training. Reputed coaches from the club will help these kids train to reach their potential, something that the budding footballers could only dream of in India due to the lack of proper financial backing from their families and top-level facilities.
After Bengaluru FC’s success in the Asian Football Confederation Cup (AFC Cup), where they reached the final and put up a brave display before losing 1-0 against Iraq’s Air Force Club and India’s slow and steady rise in the FIFA rankings (currently 129), this is another positive towards taking football ahead in India.