A dog’s din­ner or worse!

Sportstar - - LONG READ FOOTBALL - PULAKESH MUKHOPADHYAY

In­dian foot­ball’s slide started mid­way through the 1970s, never to be ar­rested, af­ter all... The coun­try’s ma­jor clubs are just as re­spon­si­ble for its foot­ball gloom as its na­tional fed­er­a­tion be­cause find­ing and groom­ing tal­ent — FIFA and its loy­al­ists call it youth de­vel­op­ment — is alien to their na­ture.

When Michael Jack­son moon­walked, his fans sim­ply went wild. But try coax­ing and ca­jol­ing some­one into go­ing down In­dian foot­ball’s mem­ory lane and chances are you will have even the die­hard buff of the game rolling his eyes, con­sult­ing his wrist­watch and re­mem­ber­ing an im­por­tant ap­point­ment a mile and a half away. That is not be­cause you or I can’t sing like Jack­son, but due in a large mea­sure to the gen­eral im­pres­sion that it is where his­tory keeps re­peat­ing it­self, tragedy hav­ing long been in­dis­tin­guish­able from farce.

The slide started mid­way through the 1970s, never to be ar­rested, af­ter all. And as one started look­ing up one’s old, dog­eared notepads for this 40­year ret­ro­spec­tive view, the boom of the voice in New Delhi that barred In­dia from the 201■ Asian Games in In­done­sia — say­ing, in so many words, that the In­dian Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion pre­ferred medal prospects to also­

SAHIL NANDA AND H. VIBHU

Leagues that are not ben­e­fi­cial: Above: Ju­bi­lant Min­erva Pun­jab FC play­ers carry the team owner, Ran­jit Ba­jaj, fol­low­ing their tri­umph in the I­league ear­lier this year. Fac­ing page: Chen­naiyin FC, the ISL team, has over­whelm­ing sup­port from its fans, but both the leagues don’t seem to be car­ry­ing In­dian foot­ball for­ward.

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