Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What is the big deal?

During the times when Football World Cups or Indo-Pak cricket matches are played, a spirit of universal hullabaloo is palpable all around. It seems to mingle in the air we breathe and fills us with excitement about the event, however poor our knowledge of the sport is. We are simply excited because something so ‘big’ is happening around us (cable TV now having shrunk the world), and all of us want to be a part of the world event, no matter if the game does nothing for us.

Football and I haven’t been introduced nicely. My only experience of watching the game was to look out of my balcony on Sunday evenings and watch all the building boys and uncles play a loud, boisterous game. Edwin uncle as the stern, no-nonsense referee bringing control over a bunch of eccentric Bengali boys (and uncles) was as entertaining as any soap on TV. In the rains, the whole lot of them would play in the slippery ground and fall and yell and fracture bones and have a blast doing it. Those were the times I wished I was a boy, so I could join them and get splattered by muck. But, beyond ‘colony’ football, I knew almost nothing.

England and Brazil are the only teams where I know the names of more than one player and the Shevchenkos and Ruud van Nistelrooys are just a bunch of funky names which seem to be studded with consonants and are fun to say out aloud! In fact, blame my geography from school but what and where the hell is ‘Ivory Coast’? Of rules I know little, so technique would be a far, laughing cry. But still, caught up in the aforementioned football fervour I too switched on my TV to catch the game between England and, I guess, one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-in-the-atlas islands from the Caribbean archipelago. Okay, so I sat through the one and half hours. Two or three goals were scored. Great, joy be with the world. ‘So what?’ I asked myself. I didn’t think sitting through the ninety minutes was compensated by those goals. I was amazed as to how a reasonably slow-paced game like this (compared to, say, basketball or hockey) could possibly be the most watched sport in the world. Tennis has constant rallies and points, one-day cricket is definitely faster, and even snooker is fun to watch. While it is blasphemous to say this in these times, I didn’t see where the excitement came in football.

Then I saw the Argentina versus Serbia-Montenegro match that Argentina won 6-0. What can I say, except that now, I’m a believer. I didn’t even see all of it, just the last half-hour where 3 of the 6 goals were scored. I don’t have the technical words to describe what I saw, but I was, for the first time touched by the excitement of the game. The beauty and precision of the 24 passes that lead to a record-making goal was breathtaking (that was the second goal of the match which I saw in innumerable replays, none of which got boring). If anybody must be initiated to the game, that is the match. Of course it was one-sided but that one side played the game like an orchestra plays the symphony (Gosh, that almost sounds like Siddhu!) .

Since that day, I have definitely been following the games with a lot more zeal. I’m far from being a typical football ‘fan’ and I still don’t understand rules and no, I do not know where Serbia and Montenegro lie. But, I’ve stopped asking what the whole deal is. Time to wrap up this post and catch the 7:30 pm match, whoever is playing it.


Sumedh said...

No matter how eloquently you put it, the fact remains that I forced you to stay put and watch the Argentina match, when you wanted to surf channels! Football is better than surfing... any day!

The man in the box said...

Good that you have caught on. Btw, you were involved with the YFE meetings at Azad Maidan?

Firebringer said...

Whoever said football is not educational - MUST read this blog :D

What can I say but...
Welcome to the dark side!