Thursday, December 17, 2009

Away Games (small note)

I lost a few days to travel - a flight from Bombay to Kolkata was so badly delayed that the event I was going to attend and report on (the Indian Football Player's Association annual dinner) was over by the time I got there.  All was not lost, because I got to hang out a little with the country's player of the year, Subrata Paul.  He was remarkably zen as the hours ticked by at the airport and it became increasingly clear that both of our trips to Kolkata were going to be somewhat pointless (well, he has family & friends there).  Fresh from training camp in Goa, the Pune FC keeper confessed he was actually "very angry" but honestly, I could not tell this at all from his affect.  Turns out he's been studying Yoga & philosophy for two years, in support of his football. 

He kept me from stressing out.  We sat there pretty chilled out, while nearly fifty passengers threatened to riot. I wish I'd had him with me on the trip back to Bombay. That plane was diverted to Pune, for no clear reason, and we were left to sit on the runway for nearly four hours. 

I'll write more about my trip later, but for now I just wanted to share this: I had joked to someone that my trip to Kolkata was all about learning what away games must be like in India.  I was kidding, because, well, flight delays happen everywhere.

But the morning after I got back, I saw this story: India sent their U23 team to the SAFF cup tournament in Bangladesh.  They won. Great news!  Their flight home was cancelled, they got stuck there overnight and then the airline lost the team's luggage


  1. I've long been puzzled about the state of football in India. I've been told by Indian friends that the popularity of the game there is second only to cricket, yet India never seems to even come close to putting together a team capable of qualifying for the World Cup, and their Asian Cup record has been poor for a very long time. It seems odd that a country with a population of over a billion could be so easily dispatched by Lebanon, who have to choose their squad from a population of less than five million. Can you shed any light on why India generally fails to even register on the world stage?

  2. I am hardly the person to provide the definitive answer to this question - but I will write about this very soon, I promise! You are right, though: the sport is played, and loved, by a lot of men and women in India - players and fans deserve much better than they get. There's a good article about this in the November WSC, by the way.

  3. To my shame, I let my WSC subscription run out in about September and totally forgot to renew it. I'm sure my local newsagent will have a back-issue. I do keep up with their online content though, which is where I heard about your excellent blog.


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