Category Archives: Sports

Beneath the glitter – Looking at The Asian Games : Praveen Verma

Guest post by PRAVEEN VERMA

Hima Das

Does it amaze you when you hear the stories of poverty and success in same sentence? Does it amaze us when we hear the stories of some of the best sports-persons and the hardship they have dealt with before and throughout their careers? Does it amaze us when we hear about the sorry state of affairs of sports facilities and some athletes still coming up with great performances? Does it amaze that most of these athletes come from rural India and mostly where they have much economic and social constraints, where work and employment is still precarious? Does it alarm when one get to know that some of these phenomenal sports-persons come from the areas which are still dealing with the issues of hunger, high rate of unemployment, major gender gap? Areas where women coming out and trying to make cut into sports are still taboo? How often does one hear about women from marginal sections (Dalit/Backward caste/tribal) becoming a sportsperson?

Some stories of these kinds make usual snippets in many Hindi newspapers around big sports events. Though, these stories, which are posed as individual heroic one and less of a critical approach to see the working of sports administration, are meant to be sensational and don’t do justice to the entire sports affairs in India. Continue reading Beneath the glitter – Looking at The Asian Games : Praveen Verma

Women’s Cricket – Rules Based Only on Gender Stereotypes Need to Go: Surabhi Shukla

This is a guest post by SURABHI SHUKLA

Playing for the Oxford University Women’s team and the Oxford Cricket Club, I have noticed three different rules for women’s cricket. These may be observed in other countries as well. I argue that these rules are based only on gender stereotypes about women’s inferior sporting abilities and even if were once instituted to encourage them to join the game, have now outlived their utility. 1. The women’s match ball is lighter than the men’s ball (also true at the international level). 2. The women’s match boundary is smaller than the men’s and; 3. One of my coaches here told me that the men’s bat is different from the women’s. This is incorrect, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) website states that both men and women are entitled to use Type A bats for one-day internationals. However, I include this point in my analysis because regardless of a rule, these kinds of statements from a coach translate into the lived experience of a female cricketer, and act as a rule for them.  Continue reading Women’s Cricket – Rules Based Only on Gender Stereotypes Need to Go: Surabhi Shukla

Lessons learnt from the misdeeds of Paralympic Committee of India – Continuing to speak up: Pragya Deora

Guest post by PRAGYA DEORA

The 15th National Para-Athelitic Championship held in Ghaziabad in March 2015 was my first national-level athletic competition that I was participating in. I did not know much about the world of sports, the associated pressures for sportsmen, politics at different levels and most importantly the amount of compromises that the participants had been making in all these years.

Our team left for Ghaziabad and even before we reached we were a little surprised. The condition of roads leading to the stadium was so terrible that we were confused if we were reaching the right place. After we reached, we realized there was worse to come. Working on issues of accessibility in my campus for making our campus barrier free for persons with disabilities, there was an expectation from the organizers that this would be a model of the way a sports competition should be organized in terms of infrastructure, procedures and attitudes. But it was a far cry from it. What screamed at each step was complete insensitivity towards persons with disabilities. Continue reading Lessons learnt from the misdeeds of Paralympic Committee of India – Continuing to speak up: Pragya Deora

The end of an era – Mohammedan Sporting, Ambedkar Stadium and Football in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai

Guest Post by JAMAL KIDWAI

Caught up in the launch of the Indian Soccer League (ISL) and its promotion by television and big Bollywood stars, very few noticed that the Kolkata based 123-yr-old Mohameddan Sporting, has effectively decided to close down due to a financial crisis. According to its management, they will stop playing for a year outside Kolkata and have disbanded the senior team.

The historic Mohammedan Sporting won the Calcutta league 11 times, the IFA Shield five times,  the Rovers Cup six times, the DCM tournament four times and the Federation Cup and the Durand Cup twice each.

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Mohammedan Sporting team that won the Calcutta League in 1940

Mohameddan Sporting, along with Mohun Bagan (established 1889) and East Bengal (established 1924) were the most popular clubs of India for over a century. Mohun Bagan drew its fan-following from the elite and the aristocracy of Bengal and its aim was to inspire young people to lead a principled life: for example, those who failed in school and college were not allowed to play and smoking and drinking in the club premises were prohibited. East Bengal, on the other hand, represented the working class and the lower-middle classes who came to stay in Kolkata from east Bengal, which later became Bangladesh.

Given the pan-Indian religious character of Mohd Sporting, it had easily the largest fan following across India. All the big tournaments patronized Mohd Sporting as it drew the largest crowds. The other major clubs like Dempo and Salgaocar came from Goa with a very limited support base outside Goa and Mumbai.  Continue reading The end of an era – Mohammedan Sporting, Ambedkar Stadium and Football in Delhi: Jamal Kidwai

How Goldman Sachs Got it Wrong on Football, The World Cup and Economics: Tushar Dhara

Guest Post by TUSHAR DHARA

In May this year the investment banking powerhouse Goldman Sachs released a report that predicted Brazil would win the FIFA world cup. The prediction relied on statistical modelling and used tools like “Regression Analysis”, “Poisson Distribution”, “Stochastic model” and “Monte Carlo Simulation”. In other words, the methodology is incomprehensible to anyone except those with an advanced degree in Statistics or Econometrics. In hindsight, the prediction looks silly, given the 7-1 score line in the semi-final match between Germany and Brazil. However, the report is a perfect example of the failures of modern economics, particularly the financial voodoo economics pushed by the likes of Goldman Sachs.

When “The World Cup and Economics 2014” was released on May 27 it gained a lot of press publicity globally. The report predicted that Spain would reach the semi-final stage and lose to Argentina, which would lose to Brazil in the final. Goldman’s research division analyzed reams of data, including about 14,000 matches since 1960, national teams’ Elo rankings, average goals scored per team, home country and home continent advantage. To be sure, the report states that the predictions are just “probabilities” of teams advancing. Still the report states, “The most striking aspect of our model is how heavily it favours Brazil to win the World Cup”, and, “the extent of the Brazilian advantage in our model is nevertheless striking.” Continue reading How Goldman Sachs Got it Wrong on Football, The World Cup and Economics: Tushar Dhara

Growing up with the Cup (Part Two): Hartman d Souza

Second Part of Growing Up With the Cup by HARTMAN DE SOUZA.

Part One can be read here.


Brazil playing the Soviet Union in the 1958 World Cup, ‘stamping their imprint on the game’, as Hartman puts it below. (Image from here).

It is an interesting coincidence that my mother ended her part of the scrap book for me, with the World Cup in Sweden 1958: while I ended that scrap book in 1963 with the World Cup in Chile in 1962.

In both tournaments, for contrasting reasons, Brazil played an important role. So, at the outset, it ought to be said that the style of playing they gave the world – by virtue of stamping their imprint on the game in 1958 – continues to be the universal model aspired to.  You can always find reasons to deny this, rationalize matters, but when push comes to shove the whole world knows who plays authentic football!

This is largely because the Brazilians continue to bring their gifts and place them on a football field where everyone partakes, rival players as well as spectators. The élan with which they play is an inspiration that is duly acknowledged, respected, bowed to and imitated, in every single part of the world where they learn to love playing with a ball and get to see re-runs of Brazil’s old matches. While rival players may hate them with a vengeance, no spectators whose teams have lost to them ever bear them a grudge. Continue reading Growing up with the Cup (Part Two): Hartman d Souza

Growing up with the Cup: Hartman De Souza (Part I)

Guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA


Boys playing football in Bangladesh. The only thing this has to do with Hartman’s post is that it has boys playing football. Also, it’s a lovely picture. (From the UNCHR Bangladesh website)

I only knew there was something called the World Cup courtesy an eccentric mother who kick-started a thick scrap book dedicated to football, to get me to start reading the newspaper. I was ten years old, and lived in Mombasa, on the coast of Kenya.

In it, my mother had gummed various newspaper and magazine articles and features on football. In 1960 when she handed it to me to continue, the last entry was her exhaustive coverage of the World Cup in Sweden in 1958, with reports of every one of the qualifying rounds and all the internationals friendly matches leading up to it. The very last clippings were news-items and commentaries talking about the next World Cup in Chile, in just two years time.

My tasks were cut out. Armed with a dictionary, I may have been one of the first ten year olds in Kenya if not the so-called Commonwealth, to discover Brian Glanville, a very bright and daring football columnist; a man who still writes about the game as if it was the only pleasure worth pursuing with passion.

I spent days and nights reading and re-reading my scrap book. I replayed countless matches in my head so that I could tinker with them and change the results. I always changed the results in my head, so logically the teams I supported always won. Continue reading Growing up with the Cup: Hartman De Souza (Part I)

The Right to Our Bodies

In a case where the “facts” are both complex and yet also the question at hand, let us start with one that should be undisputed: Pinki Pramanik says she is a woman. She has lived as one, competed as one, and identifies as one. She and no other person or institution – particularly the law or medical science – has the right to decide what her gender identity is regardless of her anatomy, her chromosomes or her hormones. As the investigations against her began, her claim to be a woman should have been accepted at face value regardless of whether narrow judgments of her appearance, manner, physicality or dress led some to believe otherwise.

To add to Nivedita’s post below and track what the Pinki Pramanik case continues to tell us, here is a link to the rest of the Times of India piece cited above that appeared on Monday. The argument I make in that piece has taken a new turn. The gender test results, as reported by the media currently, now say that Pinki is “male” because she has XY chromosome. Yet the report says at the same time that she has “female genital ducts and female external genitalia.” What indeed, then, are we to make of a “conclusive” report that finds Pink to be “male”? The terms and words of the test undo themselves and the underlying assumptions and pathways to the conclusion are far from apparent. If Pink is indeed intersex, then all of these results can stand without the conclusion the report draws of her being “male.” Worth reading are a Journal of American Medical Association article here on Gender Testing and the Olympics, Alice Dreger on sex and gender testing in sports here.

In a national daily this morning, there is a photograph of Pinki. She is taking cooking lessons with her mother in her village. The performance of her gender has begun as her sex is questioned. The only strategy open to her is to now constantly claim all that is uncontestably “woman”: a saree, a pallu over the head, in the kitchen, learning from her mother. Yet again the binaries and essentialisms of our gender identities are reproduced as Pinki tries to erase signs of the apparent “masculinity” of her appearance and behaviour that has driven much of the outrage against her thus far.

Memories of Cricket: Sameer Khan

Guest post by SAMEER KHAN

My 8th standard final exams were nearing and they coincided with the1992 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan. It was the most important match for India, much more important than the final – defeating Pakistan was no less than winning the world cup.  As I sat studying in the bedroom, I could hear Ratan’s peculiar whistle, and I rushed to the balcony. It was drizzling, and Ratan stood there in the shelter of the bus stop along with Uday,  smiling sheepishly.

Abbajan  sat on his armchair in the hall, fortunately he seemed to have dozed off watching TV, I sneaked past him. It was still drizzling, I was glad to see that Uday actually carried an umbrella with him. All three of us huddled under the black umbrella as we made our way towards Ratan’s house which was about 15 minutes walking distance from my house.

Continue reading Memories of Cricket: Sameer Khan

Cricket, Azadi and Pakistan: Mir Laieeq Ishtiyaq


As all of India celebrated the well-deserved Indian victory in the cricket world cup finals, the mood in the Kashmir valley was different. Their favourite team was ousted in the semi-final itself. On the eve of the semi-final between India and Pakistan at Mohali, a friend asked on Facebook: “That Kashmiris don’t support the Indian cricket team is well understood, but why is there so much support for Pakistan? Seems INDEPENDENCE IS JUST A MYTH…” There are no simple answers to this question.

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[Pictures taken in Kashmir during the India-Pakistan Mohali semi-final by ISHAN TANKHA for Open magazine.] Continue reading Cricket, Azadi and Pakistan: Mir Laieeq Ishtiyaq

Shiraz Hassan on cricket diplomacy

کرکٹ ڈپلومیسی، تنازعات کے پرامن حل کا عزم

پاکستان اور بھارت کی تریسٹھ سالہ تاریخ تنازعات کی ایک لمبی داستان ہے۔ دونوں ممالک کے تعلقات اس دوران کئی بات انتہائی کشیدگی کا شکار بھی رہے۔ قیام پاکستان اور ہندوستان کی انگریز حکومت سے آزادی کے بعد سے ہی دونوں ممالک کے مابین اعتماد کی فضا قائم نہ ہو سکی۔ اس ضمن میں دونوں ممالک کے مابین پہلا معرکہ 1948ءمیں کشمیر کے محاذ پر ہوا۔ جس کے بعد حالات مزید کشیدگی کی جانب مائل ہوتے گئے۔ 1965ءمیں ایک بار پھر دونوں ممالک کے افواج آمنے سامنے آئیں۔ 65ءکی جنگ کو ابھی چند ہی برس بیتے تھے کہ پاکستان کو 1971ءکے سانحے کا سامنا کرنا پڑا۔ اس جنگ میں پاکستان کو شکست کا خمیازہ دولخت ہونے کی صورت میں بھگتنا پڑا۔ پاک بھارت کے درمیان 1999ء میں کارگل کے محاذ پر بھی فوجیں آمنے سامنے آئیں اور حالات روایتی جنگ کے آغاز کے دہانے تک آپہنچے۔ البتہ موجودہ دور میں ممالک کے سرحدی علاقے اس وقت خاموش ہیں اور امن کی فضاء تیزی سے فروغ پا رہی ہے گویا دونوں ممالک کے سیاسی و دفاعی ماہرین نے تناو ¿ بھرے ماضی سے یہ سبق سیکھ لیا ہے کہ ”جنگ سے نہیں بلکہ امن سے ترقی ممکن ہے۔ “
پاکستان اور بھارت کے سفارتی تعلقات کے استحکام اور امن کے فروغ کے لئے کرکٹ کا کردار بھی نہایت اہم رہا ہے۔ ورلڈ کپ 2011ءمیں دونوں ٹیمیں موہالی کے میدان میں سیمی فائنل میچ میں آمنے سامنے آئیں ۔ پاکستان اور بھارت کی کرکٹ ٹیموں نے 2008ءمیں ہوئے ممبئی حملوں کے بعد ایک دوسرے کے مدمقابل نہیں کھیلا تھا۔ ان دہشت گرد حملوں میں کم و بیش ایک سو پچاس سے زائد افراد ہلاک ہوئے تھے اور بھارت کی جانب سے ان حملوں کے لئے پاکستان کو ذمہ دار ٹھہرایا گیا تھا۔ ممبئی حملوں کے بعد پاکستان اور بھارت کے درمیان تعلقات ایک بار پھر سخت کشیدہ ہوگئے تھے جس میں وقت گزرنے کے ساتھ کمی آئی ہے تاہم بھارتی وزیراعظم من موہن سنگھ کی جانب سے وزیراعظم گیلانی کو موہالی میں میچ دیکھنے کی خصوصی طور پر دعوت دی گئی جسے وزیراعظم نے قبول کیا اور اس عزم کے ساتھ موہالی پہنچے کہ ان کا یہ اقدام نہ صرف پاکستان بھارت کے درمیان پیدا شدہ کشیدگی کو کم کرنے بلکہ خطہ میں مستقل امن و استحکام کے لئے بھی معاون ثابت ہوگا۔ وزیر اعظم گیلانی اور بھارتی وزیراعظم من موہن سنگھ نے ایک ساتھ میچ دیکھا اور مختلف امور پر تبادلہ خیال بھی کیا۔ میچ کے بعد وزیراعظم گیلانی نے خصوصی عشائیے میں بھی شرکت کی جسے پاکستان بھارت کے درمیان بہتر تعلقات کے استحکام اور تنازعات کے حل کی جانب Continue reading Shiraz Hassan on cricket diplomacy

I dont love India but I love cricket: Sudipto Mondal

Guest post by SUDIPTO MONDAL

They don’t love the deftness of a late cut
or the terror of a snorter;
the authority of a cover drive
or the seduction of a flighted one.

They don’t love the smell of spit on leather.
They don’t love one eased through long leg
unless its Deepika Padukone we’re talking about.

They don’t love cricket but they say they love India.

They don’t love Inzamam’s hulking sixes.
They don’t love Hayden’s muscular heaves
or Ponting’s nervous shuffle.

They don’t love Lara because he was
as good as Sachin.
And Kambli was after all just an urchin

They don’t love cricket but they say they love India.

They don’t love the man who cleans their shit.
They don’t love the colleague that eats meat.
They don’t love the ‘backdoor entrant’ who shares their seat.

They don’t love the hungry protestors
who block their path at the height of summer’s heat.
They don’t love the vendor on the street.

They don’t love cricket but they say they love India.

They don’t love the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders either.
They don’t love the man who puts food on their plate
because he asks for food in turn.

They don’t love them jungle boys
because they wouldn’t give them their hill.

They don’t love the dark ones.
They don’t love the short ones.

They don’t love a nose that lacks precision.
They don’t love circumcision.

They don’t love cricket but they say they love India.

Indians who want Pakistan to win and Pakistanis who want India to win!

To make our point against jingoism.

To say that no one needs a cricket match to prove their patriotism.

To hope the best for those we’re told we should hope the worst for.

Please join this Facebook Event page and ask your friends across the border to do so, too.

Islam Colony Riders vs. Ward 2 Worriers [sic]

You are a young politician in Delhi and you want to make a mark in an area, in a seat. You want to be known, you want to be a leader, you want followers, you want to be taken seriously. You want votes. You have the right kind of Delhi first name – Mahender rather than Mahendra – and an even better surname – who better than a Chaudhary to be your leader? But there would be many Mahender Chaudharys. What can you do? You can get basic work done – permissions and pipelines and land conversions and garbage clean-up. But anyone with the right contacts can do that. Anyone can become a protege of a Congress leader like Yoganand Shastri. In a city like Delhi, in a city of migrants, in a city whose citizens think they have the right to be treated better than the rest of India, in a city that does not seem to be ‘politicised’ like the seemingly distant world of the ‘real’ India, in a city that is a state – how do you begin being taken seriously as someone with political ambitions? One Mahender Chaudhary has this poster put up all over Mehrauli (which was once all there was to Delhi). Check it out: Continue reading Islam Colony Riders vs. Ward 2 Worriers [sic]

Lovely’s Lane: Alok Rai

Guest post by ALOK RAI

It was bound to come sooner or later. The wonder – the absolute, outrageous, impudent surprise of it all is that it has come so soon. The Games have barely limped to their pathetic conclusion – and those of us who are waiting for the post-Games reckoning are waiting but impatiently, inadequately consoled by the sound of the sharpening of the knives, the braiding of the hangman’s rope – or, most likely, the Japanese water torture of the promised Shunglu probe. And in the midst of this unfolding fiasco, this still-running disaster, the lovely Mr Arvinder Singh Lovely, Delhi’s Transport Minister, has made the suggestion that the insult of the Games lane, the closing off to the public of a significant part of the road which has been made with public money, be made permanent. This – as we were told in full-page ads paid for by us – was done with threats of  a hefty fine or, worse, far worse, being exposed to the courtesies of a Delhi cop. The ineffable experience of crawling along patiently (but proudly, always proudly!) while sundry others flashing CWG insignia whizzed past in the CWG lane – an experience that so many of us chose to miss, could now become a permanent feature of the metro experience. I can’t wait!

Continue reading Lovely’s Lane: Alok Rai

After the Games: Alok Rai


Guest post by ALOK RAI

I had imagined that there would be time after the Games. Kalmadi and his cronies would have to hang, of course, but it could have been done in a measured fashion. Now, it appears that there is no time to lose. The Shameless One has actually said something about bidding for the Olympics! And with the promise of enough money in the trough, we can expect the pigs to grunt their approval too – just like they did the last time. But in the name of all the people who have been uprooted, and had their livelihoods destroyed; the students who have been thrown out of their hostels; the long-suffering citizenry of Delhi that is currently undergoing the final stage of the insult and humiliation that has been heaped on them over the past year in the name of the Games, I say, enough! Hang the bastards, now!

But I should clarify quickly. I am not so naïve as to be outraged by the corruption. It is the stupidity I am particularly offended by. After all, corruption is only one half of the story. And, frankly, the corruption is hardly surprising. Corruption, to my lay understanding, is the whole point of these large “public” enterprises – it enables the crooks-in-power to get their hands on the money that has been gouged from the poor. That is exactly what everyone expects – the poor victims, the crooked beneficiaries. But surely the stupidity is gratuitous?

Continue reading After the Games: Alok Rai

Down with Students’ Eviction from College Hostels!: University Community for Democracy

A Guest Post sent to us by BONOJIT HUSSAIN and NAINA MANJREKAR

[This is a leaflet issued by the University Community for Democracy which has come up in the wake of the arbitrary and authoritarian eviction of students from the hostels of Delhi University for the Commonwealth Games. Initially starting off as a facebook discussion among students, the anger has now snowballed into a movement that seeks to go beyond the immediate question of evictions. – AN]
Down with eviction of students from College Hostels!
Onwards to students self-activity!!
University Community for Democracy poster

The current administration of Delhi University has attempted to reshape the University through a series of sinister agendas – be it the introduction of semester system, the European Studies Programme or the biometric identification system. All of them have shared one thing in common: the thwarting of democratic debate on proposals for change, and the routine violation of regulatory protocols.

The latest episode has been the eviction of students (2,000 students according to reports) from a number of hostels in Delhi University in order to make them available for the Commonwealth Games. Hostels are being renovated and beautified for the officials and visitors of the Games, while students are scrambling around for their own accommodation. The students, like the 40,000 families on the Yamuna bank, are now among the many that have been displaced in the name of national glory. What comes into question is the fact that the University has agreed to avail of 20 crores of rupees from the Commonwealth Games project without taking any cognisance of how and where such resources are generated. It has thus become an accomplice in the larger process of reckless corporatisation that the whole city is undergoing in the bid of becoming a “global city”.

Go, Fly A Kite !

Dear all,

Here is the slightly longer, original version of a text by me on ‘Kite Flying’ (among other things) that appeared in the latest issue of Outlook, to mark the 15th of August. The version published in Outlook is titledFreedom on A String.
Apologies for cross posting on Reader List.

Go, Fly a Kite !

There is almost nothing about rituals of statehood that appeals to me. The speeches leave me cold and patriotic anthems are the worst, most ponderous form of music ever performed or invented. As for the pomp and circumstance of parades and other solemn but pathetic attempts at grandeur – they only repeat their lessons in how distant the apparatus of the state actually is from the lives of citizens. Continue reading Go, Fly A Kite !

Healthy Debate

Our disclaimer page reads:

1. Personal attacks are not okay! Passionate, even angry critiques are great, but you want to hold off on the invective. This is an online forum, not a prize contest on the bad words we are sure everyone knows.

2. We want Kafila to be a forum in which we can explore complex ideas together. Polarised for/against debates or WWF-type slanging matches help nobody.

3. All of us who write here have an investment in the issues posed in Kafila. So for us these exchanges are not merely academic or for point-scoring.

In line with that, a public service message about trolls, as much for ourselves as anyone else!


From here.

Why I hate the Aussies

When it comes to the sporting arena, Scotland is not well known to set the imagination of fans on fire.

However, I was strongly praying for them to acquire an unexpected life in their opening World Cup game and hoped that they manage to give the Australians a crash course in the funniness of the game called cricket.

In the last five years, I have had only one agenda when it comes to cricket. I want the Australians to be thrashed, beaten, bullied and plummeted. The ultimate cricketing sight for me is to see Glenn McGrath’s shoulders droop and his arms hanging low and his mouth clenched tightly and his eyes unable to meet the batsman’s eyes. I don’t really care who the batsman is, it could be Henry Olonga for all I care, or any team that produces this effect. Continue reading Why I hate the Aussies