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Indians at the Olympic Games

On the occasion of the football World Cup, I had written a small post on the scene of football/soccer in India. Since then they created an Indian tournament with local teams and a few soccer Grandpas, international ex-stars, coming to lend a hand. Some clubs also finally understood that if the Indians are really crappy at soccer, on a global scale, it could be because nobody has actually ever invested in this sport; and that there are hidden talents, even if only statistically, when you take the size of the population… For instance, Paris-Saint-German has an Academy in India with programs especially in Gurgaon and Bangalore. So as FC Barcelona, Liverpool and Arsenal (source).Million Dollar Arm cricket movie.jpg

It reminds me of this movie I found very moving, Million Dollar Arm (a coach of American football who goes and recruits players in India through a cricket throwing ball selection to make them American football superstars).

But the topic of the day is actually the Olympic Games, just to be a little trendy. India sent this year 118 participants to Rio and harvested 2 medals. And not the least medals, in my humble opinion, since they were both won by women. And BAM. Silver in badminton and bronze in wrestling. The fact remains, however, that India totals 28 medals in the Summer Olympic Games since 1900, with 24 participations – the same number of medals that this machine of Phelphs got for himself this year alone! I don’t even speak about the Winter Olympics... 9 entries and 0 medal.

India,Indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccer

India,Indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccer

Source: Wikipedia

The topic of the moment in India is to understand why Indians are doing so bad at sports. I hear a lot of the absent sport culture, about parents who do not encourage their offspring to pursue sports, that there are not enough subsidies or enough money to make in this field and not enough sports facilities. And nobody says anything about the heat. And that maybe, after generations spent their lives sweating like pigs to make a living and put food in their plates, they don’t feel like chasing a ball for fun? (and anyways they may have become too fat for that)

India,Indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccerThat said, this is a big generalization to say that Indians are bad at sports. Maybe they do not shine in the Olympic Games, but since they do nothing like anybody else, they also have a whole series of local sports*. Some involving being dragged in the mud by a Buffalo (Kambala). Others fighthing while playing rugby and touching each other (Kabbadi). There are also rowing races boats and canoe and a lot of sports related to archery, wrestling and stick fight, like Kalari in Kerala. Even, at the time of the Vedas (more than a hundred years B.C.), “men of stature and circumstance were expected to be competent in chariot-racing, archery, horsemanship, military tactics, wrestling, weight-lifting, swimming and hunting. The guru-shishya (teacher-pupil) relationship has always been an integral part of Indian sport from time immemorial. Indian sport reached a peak of excellence when Buddhism held sway here.” Less known, these sports have somehow survived and would deserve some attention, if not a Olympic spot! (Bad luck for Indians that cricket and polo were discontinued in the Olympic Games)

india,indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccerIt is also a big generalization since it seems that India ranked 3rd in the Special Olympic Games of 2015 – a competition for athletes with mental disabilities from 8 to 71 (different of the Paraolympics where competitors have physical disabilities). India gathered 173 medals! The best athletes are not necessarily those you could expect ;)

* Source:


When Indians decide to play football like big boys...

Well it's not sad! For example they are players (Peter Biaksangzuala) who manage to kill themselves by making a somersault to celebrate their goal:

It hurts.

In a nutshell, just a year ago (October 21, 2013), Bollywood stars, retired cricket players and industrialists, for a reason that is unknown to me, decided to launch the Indian Football League (ISL or Indian Super League). With at the head of the project Mrs Ambani (wife of the industrialist head of Reliance Group, the richest man of India if not the world).

There are 8 teams and I have compiled below a few statistics and data (average age, number of foreign players, owners) and I also compared to the Ligue 1, the french Championship, to get an idea of what the numbers mean! Like that, before stupidly repeating that this is a competition of grandpas, I see that there are just 2 and a half year gap in the age difference average. But it is true that the guest stars are quite not young...

india,isl,indian super league,football,soccer,statistics,average age,foreign players


2 other articles I wrote on football in India: On feminine football (link); Indians and football (link)


Indians and football

At the hour of the football World Cup, let's have a look at the Indian football prowesses...

 So you may know it or not but India does have a national football team! Created in 1937, affiliated to the FIFA since 1948 and currently ranking... 154th (out of 207)! india,sport,football,world cup,shoes

In the sixties, Indians were actually among the top 3 of Asian teams. They even qualified in 1950 for the World Cup (in Brazil) but refused to participate, at the last minute. It is unclear why, the inadequate foreign exchange reserves, the long journey by ship, the obligation to wear... shoes (obviously the only reason which has been retained in the popular imagination)!

 Some Indians do watch football on TV – but almost only matches of English teams (a side effect of the colonization) are broadcast...

 Anyway, Indians and sport is not really a love story...



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