Source:  Mudassir Ali on Unsplash
“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” - Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant (American footballer)

Any country, to establish itself as a leading nation of the world, needs to have fit and healthy individuals as its citizens. The basic requirement for ensuring the health of an individual is good food and plenty of fresh air, read oxygen. India, as a nation, is yet to establish itself in the world’s calendar of sporting events firmly, except for cricket – the ever-popular game involving about a dozen players. Compared to football, cricket is a game of sports which only a handful of countries participate in. Hockey is our national sport. Yet how many young men of our country practice or play it at their adjacent playground, maybe?

Sports is an integral ingredient in one’s childhood growing up years. Unless one is differently-abled, that is. All of us have played some form of sport in our youth and childhood. For me, sports had entered into my life by way of skipping. Yes, that jute rope – long, sturdy and strong – helped me reach heights which were otherwise unreachable at that age. In this, my mother had been my first instructor. She could skip better than me. Any time of the day… We skipped with the same length of rope – by turns, just like bosom friends did.

Source: Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 

Everyone must have had sports in their student years also. It had been as important as all the other subjects that were taught in the classroom at school, when I was a student. Physical activity is as important as mental activity. We also played the game of kabaddi among friends, and it was encouraged by our school also. Every resident in any area residing in any part of the country, must have enjoyed playing the game of badminton. Holding the racquet at arm’s length and throwing the cork to the opponent, who in turn does vice versa, is an activity which is pleasurable to play as well as to watch. Badminton champ, P.V.Sindhu, is a sporting phenomenon among the youth. I always loved watching tennis matches, especially the ones that had Martina Navratilova and her opponent, Chris Evert, playing one ball of a game. Those were the days of Doordarshan sports channels. These days, one just has to click on ESPN or, better still, Star Sports, and lo and behold! The best of sporting action can be enjoyed while spread out on one’s own comfort zone.

Our nation’s pulse beats on the cricketing fever. Given any time of the day, personnel in an office can be seen relaxing before a television set. The reason: The World Cup is on. Good enough excuse for a no-work day! The nation is mourning after Virat Kohli, the most successful Indian Test skipper in recent years, decided to call it quits. But as far as I am concerned, my perennial favorite is, and will always be the one and only, Kapil Dev Nikhanj. We – my father and myself – had watched the 1983 Prudential Cup victory of the Indian Cricket team, led by Kapil Dev who had himself scored a mammoth 175 runs in the match against Zimbabwe in the same tournament. India was yet to come under the grip of the cricketing fever. After that win, there’s been no looking back for team India. Chak De India!!

Jallikattu, played in the state of Tamil Nadu, involves the taming of wild bulls by men. It is practiced during the Pongal celebrations there, which roughly coincides with Makar Sankranti in other parts of India. It had also been practiced during the early Indus Valley civilization, as a seal depicting Jallikattu, is preserved in the National Museum at New Delhi. It may be worthy to note here that similar bullfighting events get organized in countries like Spain and Mexico among others. A huge battle ensues between man and beast, and animal rights’ activists have always been vociferous against the practice. They have also moved cases to the Supreme Court.

Source: Mrs. Debika Nandi.

Outdoor sport is always preferable than indoor board games. The sun shining at its zenith, the camaraderie spirit found in the hearts of the players, and the outside cheer pouring in from the people gathered up at the stadium make sports an engaging and engrossing activity indeed! With the advent of the IPL and T20 matches, we – the viewers sitting in front of our respective TV sets – become as much a participant as the actual players, who play out there in the cricket pitch. The excitement becomes so very infectious!!

The Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, and the grande dame of international sporting actions, the Olympics, are the arenas where Indian sportsmen and sportswomen have made us proud. Strangely, cricket is not included in the Olympics schedule. Has anyone ever argued about that? The answer is: No. It’s simple because the standard and class of the Olympic Games are such that matches of cricket – the unofficial national game here – takes a backseat then. Post-independence, our country had outshone the other nations of the world in the game of hockey. The team had won six gold medals in a row at the Olympic Games. Some of the gold medalists at the Olympics include Karnam Malleswari, Abhinav Bindra, Neeraj Chopra, P.V.Sindhu, Sushil Kumar.

As an end note, it may be worthy to state here that ‘Such a sport of a man’ does not necessarily make him a sportsman either! The sporting spirit is an attitude – a way of looking at life altogether. The BCCI has announced the names of K.L. Rahul as the captain and Jasprit Bumrah as the vice-captain of the Indian Cricket Team for the series against South Arica. Let us wish them luck because that’s the one thing that’s much needed in these Covid-scare times. The willpower to fight and the mental strength to succeed are the arteries that course through the universe of sports. 

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