I know a lot of us have been enthusiastically keeping ourself abreast with updates/ news of the performance of the Indian contingent at Rio. As usual, there has been some success, many failures, rare surprises, alot of disappointment, a little hope and all those missed chances.
We’ve sent 118 boys and girls – sports persons who have put in years of hard work, slogged and lumbered against a lot of hardship, faced every possible adversity, and despite it all, trained, practised and persisted. It is not an easy job being a sports person in India when most odds are stacked against your success and triumph.
For starters, very few Indian families encourage or actively facilitate their children to pursue sports. A typical Indian family would rather have their children become lawyers, doctors, engineers etc. rather than make a career in sports. Conventional careers are still the preferred choice in most Indian homes as they are viewed as safe, secure and dependable. Sports is pursued only as a means to an end – to secure admissions in the perfect university, to get a government job or for more banal reasons- to keep active and stay fit. Ergo- children who have a natural flair, inherent talent or general proclivity to a particular sport are dissuaded from pursuing their passion or looking at sport as a tangible career prospect.
Then, it is the catastrophic affect that mainstream education has on these budding sportspersons- rote learning, mental syllabuses, endless exams, mind- boggling subjects, take a toll on a budding sports persons ability to hone, practise and single mindedly focus on improving their skills. Years spent balancing the rigour of academics and the demands of pursuing a sport, would make the strongest of us buckle and falter. The road more frequently traveled definitely looks safer and easier.
If that wasn’t enough, the journey of pursuing a sport professionally in India only begins with an inherent talent for the game – it requires the right opportunities, lucky chances and serendipitous coincidences – finding the best trainers and coaches, obtaining sponsors, hours of hardwork, withstanding injuries, setback and failure, financial crunches and a zillion personal sacrafices. Add to that, sports infrastructure in our country is far from noteworthy and most sports bodies are riddled with politics, corruption and nepotism- integrity,, independence and transparency always shortchanged.
So, as Indians, we should care less about the golds, silvers and bronzes and how the medal tally stacks up- those elusive medals may or may not come! Irrespective of the outcome, we should cheer, applaud, honour and respect each and every one of those 118 boys and girls for competing, risking, fighting, persisting and attempting to be Champions against all odds.