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

Guest post by PRAVEEN VERMA

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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.

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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

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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)”