Corporate Social Negligence!

I-League 2011

Posted in Football, India, Indian Football, sports by clash on October 26, 2011

The new edition of I-league is here. Ten Action is broadcasting the league.

I watched around 40 mins of  Salgaocar playing Dempo and around 60 odd mins of the East Bengal  playing Churchill Bros.   While  Salgaocar – Dempo was a tame affair, the EB – CB played in Salt Lake, Kolkota was a nice treat.

Nothing noteworthy happened in the Salgaocar –  Dempo match. Dempo looked sharper physically and battled it out with Salgaocar.

It is so obvious what a good pitch can do to a football match. The EB- CB match was a en evidence to this.  The synthetic pitch in Salt Lake provided a good platform for a good match in Kolkota. Trevor Morgan’s EB looked sizzling with all passes and nice tricks but they simply couldnt find the net.  Where as CB had a consistent match in terms of defending. They were opportunistic enough to slot a single goal which won the match.

Finally a few words about the telecast. While i really liked the quality of broadcast with slow motion replays from different angles and a decent commentator to accompany it, the most i enjoyed is the talk show hosted by Joe Morrison, in which Carlton Palmer and John Burridge dishes out wisdom and tactical analysis of the matches.  They are simply kick a**.  I have always enjoyed their comedy during the UEFA Champions league matches!

Indian Football – Where do we go now?

Posted in Football, India, Indian Football, soccer, sports by clash on November 22, 2010

Suddenly, it looks like everyone is throwing their toys out of the pram. The media, supporters and former footballers alike are having a go at the Indian football team now. Our English coach, Bob Houghton found this coming and has tried to side step by making his plans obvious – quit after the Asian Cup.

AIFF in fact did literally set up circus tent, when they planned to pull out 30 established players to prepare for the upcoming Asian cup in Qatar. Little did they know their one and half year dedicated program is  not going to earn results. Now, it should be quite clear to them after the thorough drubbing from some premier Asian teams.

Before jumping on to the criticizers’ band wagon, there are some facts that need to pondered upon. First of all, the plan of leasing out established players from clubs to prepare for Asian Cup was not essentially a wonderful idea. There are nations that have implemented such programs, but that involves thorough planning and dedication. As things go, we know how our football federation works.

Selecting 30 players have literally shut out options for other upcoming and better performing players being selected in to this esteemed coterie. This means, some old, experienced and injured players went for conditioning camp in Portugal, and now they are back playing some international friendlies, needless to say losing some of the matches in huge margins.

Talking about friendlies, how many of them have we played now? From the month of October onwards we have played nations like Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Yemen and recently Iraq, UAE and Kuwait. There should not be much of surprise that the team is loosing on bigger margins now. They are definitely tired and that is no surprise with a not so fit a team and some aging legs in the group.

While the idea to group 30 odd players for Asia Cup would have been Houghton’s brain child but the execution part of it has been totally screwed up the federation. Otherwise they would not have arranged so many friendlies, especially with premier teams within such a time frame. It also points out that one and a half year is hardly enough to prepare for a competition of this sort.

So where do we go now? Actually, these results don’t come as a surprise. Other than the odd Nehru Cup win and the AFC challenge Cup, this team hardly has any international experience. All of a sudden they are thrust in to a tizzy world of friendlies and the team is definitely finding it difficult to live up to these situations.

What they now need is a breather. They have to pick themselves up from the drubbings they got from the teams like Kuwait and UAE. The AIFF on the other hand is expecting better performances from the team in the Asian Cup. An official said that the team is going to learn from these defeats and as a part of the continuous improvement they are expecting better results. Mind you, we are grouped with the likes of Bahrain and Australia. Expecting anything better might put day dreaming to shame. So let us not.

If there is something that we can learn from this, it is that one and half year is not enough to build a winning football team. It involves dedication and thorough grooming over a larger period of time.

Criticizing the manager and players, I feel is not the right way to go. You could have differences with Bob and his style. Personally, I am not a big fan of the style of play he espouses. I thoroughly feel disinterested when I see our players pining long balls in to opposition half, where we hardly win a header or win possession.

I also don’t buy in to coaches like Nayeemuddin and his bleating about how a foreign coach gets all that he wants in terms of foreign tours, friendlies and sorts. Bob simply has the authority or knack to work his way through a not so friendly federation who are strapped for cash. If  Nayeem could not earn all the facilities and tours he wanted, it was simply because he could not convince them or could not make his way forward with the Association. There is no point in bleating away now.

We should not be expecting miracles in the upcoming Asian Cup, instead if we can focus on the further growth even after the tournament by adding some fresh players to the select 30 and continue, we might earn results in the coming years. We should not be expecting that to happen, after all this was project Asia Cup. In our parlance, that strictly will only be for Asia Cup and nothing more than that. Wait and watch for how many more years will we have to wait for another friendly after our Asia Cup appearance.

India 0-2 Iraq

Posted in Football, India, Indian Football, Iraq, soccer, sports by clash on November 12, 2010

Indian team is in Dubai preparing for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011. There recent loss against Iraq in a friendly is a welcome change than it being another sad note in our football. Iraq, after all is the reigning Asian Champions. Losing 2-0 to Iraq is no way bad.

Gone are the days or folklore performances of drubbing other Asian nations. Today we simply fail to match to any kind of  teams in Asia. There are some good analysis and afterthoughts appearing on the internet. I really liked this one here. The player analysis over there is quite interesting as it toes along my disjointed perspective about Indian football players. I dont get to watch as much of Indian football, so my opinions could be half baked but now that doesnt seem to be so.

Bob Houghton has implied that he might leave after the Asian Cup. I feel it is quite unnecessary of him to pop up now and talk about his departure plans as we ought to completely concentrate on the preparations even though it might not earn the desired results as we are in a tough qualifying group. Even then the departure talk can take a back seat, he might simply be steering across to put some pressure on the football governing body. With the looks of it, that is the only way to counter such an organization, so it is not very fair to be overtly critical of Bob at this moment.

Lets hope Bob and the team take the positives from the Iraq match and move on. Thinking of underdogs in football, Otto Rehhagel’s Greece in Euro ’04 always comes to mind. It is certainly fanciful of me to expect something of that sort by in India in the Asian Cup but you dont have to pay a penalty for dreaming, so let me!

On another note, the under-23 or the India B team has progressed to the last 16 in the Asian Games. They thrashed Singapore 4-1 enroute to the last 16. Let us wait and watch, what this team can do.

The best part about Asian games and the recently friendlies are there are live streams appearing over the internet. While it was almost impossible to find live streams of Indian football earlier,with this new trend let us hope footy lovers can enjoy their share of Indian football over the internet.

Commonwealth Farce

Posted in India, sports by clash on October 18, 2010

The commonwealth farce is over. Everyone seems to be enthused about the fact that the games went on well after all those initial glitches and media reports.  We seemed to have bettered our medals tally and people are already talking about hosting Olympics. I still stand by whatever i wrote earlier about CWG.  Check those here and here.

If anything explains our CWG the best, it is this Sainath article – The narcissism of the neurotic

These nefarious elements like Kalmadi and Bhanot will be out soon for an Olympics bid. They are waiting for the CWG dust to settle down and cover all the corruption and malpractices.

On a lighter note enjoy this performance of the secretary general of the organizing committee of the CWG.

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Where are the playgrounds?

Posted in Football, India, Indian Football, Kerala, soccer, sports by clash on August 11, 2010

Asks the Kerala football team coach – M.M Jacob, who was in helm for the recently concluded Santosh Trophy.

Sorry, if you mistake this as a ritual, I kindly request you not to consider this as one. Even though most of my posts have that quintessential cynical streak in them, I need to make it clear that I don’t really intend to constantly churn out pessimistic articles about Kerala football. The problem is that it keeps coming most often than expected because, that is the state of kerala football right  now.

The irony of  our football is well explained at this moment. We have a Kerala footballer in Denson Devdas, who scored a brace to take West Bengal to Santosh Trophy title after a long wait for 11 years. On the contrary we have the  Kerala team which crashed out in a quarterfinal match against Mizoram. While the state still produces players like Denson, there is something seriously lacking in our football as M.M. Jacob explains in this interview report to Stan Rayan of The Hindu.

The interview needs no in-depth analysis  as Jacob is quite candid about our footballing situation, but he points out a very important factor that is contributing to the decline of  Kerala football. The availability of play grounds , an issue which has skipped the attention of many in Kerala. He says : “Children these days don’t have a ground where they can run and play freely. There is so much restriction everywhere. I think, if we get the Ambedkar Stadium (in Kochi), develop it nicely, it will help football in a big way,” And it can’t get anymore clearer. There is a massive shortage of open spaces, leave alone play grounds in Kerala. The chaotic urban and rural planning hardly leaves any space for public utilities like a park or a play ground, what so ever happened to the current government’s policy of identifying 10,000 play grounds.

Kerala has not won the inter-state tourney after 2002 and has been crashing out of the tournament in the earlier stages of the competition, thanks to humiliating defeats at the hands of other states. The situation is quite bleak with the once super star I.M. Vijayan admitting that the talent coming forth is substandard. Academies and nurturing talent right from young age is the way forward, but all those will only come in to place unless we realize the importance of play grounds and start planning towards creating more space for children to play.

Talking about playgrounds and stadiums, the latest news is that Viva Kerala, the team representing Kerala in i-league is on the run to find a ground where they can play their home matches. If Viva has to hunt a ground, imagine the plight of a  kid wanting to play some football.

The most cynical preamble for WC 2010


Media, English and the vernacular is awash with news about football fever in kerala.  Extensive and in-depth coverage of the football fever in fact.

While the World Cup build up is happening, Kerala is currently participating in the Dr. B.C. Roy Trophy – Junior NFC.  The results are a contrast to the euphoria that media is trying to push down our throats. In this junior national tournament, Kerala is in a tough cluster but that is no excuse for the failure.

Here is what we have managed so far.

score card courtesy : the-aiff.com

score card courtesy : the-aiff.com

Thorough thumping in both the matches played. The score line is indeed a matter of worry. It shows that we were not even a match against both these teams.

Chandigarh is home to a very decent football academy and its a government run one.  North eastern states are innately very good at football and some of them are the beneficiaries of effectively implemented Vision India programme, a junior footballing programme conducted with the help of AFC. I am not sure if  Mizoram is part of this programme yet.

Kerala, for being a football loving state, does not have a single government run football academy. A lot private short term football coaching camps happen and there are considerably successful ventures like SEPT ,but these are not helping our football in a desired manner.   I also tried tracking the Vision India programme that was implemented in Kerala, but hardly any news came up of it.

This is not new, last time around we crashed out of this age group tournament in good fashion.  I carried out my usual cynical work here.

When everyone is eagerly awaiting the world cup football, it is probably not a right moment to contemplate about Kerala football . It would be nice if  the Malayalam journos who are waxing lyrical about the world cup fever stand up and take notice of  our football’s decline.

Thejas online has two different stories about the World Cup football fever, here and here.

Before blasting them for not having enough attention to our own backyard, i have to say that Thejas carries the best football news in Malayalam on any day.

For a week or more, i have been trying to jot down something about my world cup memories but that never happened. The draft happened, shelved, dusted again and then again shelved.

Memories would remain memories, it looks like.

All these while i was getting treated to variety of news articles from various sources over the internet about the football madness that is slowly creeping in Malabar. A coincidence that the  Dr. B.C. Roy Trophy – Junior NFC is also currently underway.  I couldn’t stop myself, here i am with a post that could the most cynical preamble written  for this world cup.

I have a contender here : Who’s losing at the World Cup?

I am happy that i managed to conjure something up about football before the world cup started.

My bets for this world cup  :

1. Argentina (Eternal favorites!)

2.Netherlands (Van Persie, Top Scorer)

3.Spain (Fabregas, have a good tournament and stay with us for another year or so.)

4.Cameroon (African teams are supposed to do good in this cup and my pick is Cameroon. They have an imbalanced team not anywhere close to Milla and co, still i would vouch for them)

And that is it. Enjoy the footballing month ahead.

IPL comes to Kerala

Posted in Football, Indian Football, Kerala, sports by clash on March 30, 2010

In 2002 0r something when Tinu Yohannan  made it in to the Indian team from Kerala, renowned writer/cricket historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in his column that, this is it. Cricket has vanquished football and athletics as a sport in kerala.  Tinu was never  a successful cricketer and played only very few matches for the nation.

Guha seemed to have comfortably omitted the fact that Tinu was a superior athlete than a cricketer. I always felt he simply switched over to cricket because cricket is the only sport in India in which you can cut a career. Well, Tinu is the son of an Asian Games  Long Jump gold medalist, T.C. Yohannan.

Guha, the cricketing elitist that he is, was more interested in painting a suave picture of some Balan Pandit, who always used to top the score cards for Kerala in Ranji Trophy with the runs he scored.  Guha imagined him in his blue blazers driving down the Wayanad hills in his Willys Jeep and then scoring all those runs for the Kerala cricket team.

The fact is that Balan Pandit fails to kindle my imagination. I am not overwhelmed by the blue blazers and Willys Jeep. Instead, i would take the urchin who sold soda bottles in Thrissur municipal stadium, who later went on to don Indian colors in football – I.M. Vijayan as my hero.  I am sure there are quite a few thousands like me.

After Tinu, Sreesanth happened, ODI matches came to Kaloor International stadium and sorts. Cricket has not yet got a foothold in Kerala. Can IPL sustain itself in a place where cricket doesn’t occupy the sensibilities of the crowd? If they have to make a mark, i feel the team has to be successful on the field. Will this consortium pump in money to get real good cricketers who can earn the results? Will this 5 company consortium roll on? Will this open door for Kerala cricketers? Will the team be called Cochin Coconuts? There are so many questions.

Being an IPL city might be good for Kochi, its tourism and sorts.  If am to be very frank, i really dont want this to take off. I am not really bothered about Kerala cricket.

so is it the End of the road for future Vijayans, Pappachans?

We will have to wait and see.

I am off for Golden Threads FC Vs BEML, i-league 2nd div matches are happening in Bangalore. Well, i am trying to sneak out of office.



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An inevitbale implosion

Posted in sports by clash on January 21, 2010

The Commonwealth games is fast approaching and it looks like sports persons in India are taking this as a wonderful opportunity to bargain for their dues. Most of the sporting bodies are thoroughly mismanaged to an extent that some of the don’t even pay the players.

Recently, men’s hockey team stalled their national camp and told the office bearers of Hockey India to pay them up so that they would continue their camp. It raked up quite a furor in the media, with eyes moist and all, lot of news readers lamented about the plight of our national sport and the pathetic state the sport is in.

Then came the riff between the Abhinav Bindra, the ace shooter and the Shooting association. He even threatened to withdraw from world championship and sorts.

Suresh Kalmadi seems to be the power broker in all the cases. He stepped in to solve the men’s Hockey fiasco. The irony is that Kalmadi himself is the ultimate personification of what stinks in our sports and athletics. He is actively involving all these stop-gap measures so as to make sure that, there is no embarrassment, while his flag ship project – Commonwealth games unfold in India.

Wont it be great to see our hockey team taking to the ground in CW games 2010 wearing black arm bands because they are not paid their dues?

Yes, that is what the ladies hockey team have decided to do. They have started practicing in the national camp wearing black arm bands protesting against the non-payment of their dues.

Skipper Surinder Kaur and her team mates says that many of their team members have financial woes and they are not being helped adequately.

It has reached a point where the team members have opened a joint bank account, so that wellwishers and interested parties can help them directly.

It is terribly sad to hear this. It almost amounts to begging.

Then again, this is the best occasion to earn your best bargain from the nonchalant sporting bodies. World championships and CW games are on the anvil and these kind of drastic measures can only provide a rude jolt for the sports administrators in our nation.

This kind of implosion was waiting to happen in our sports.

I would say, it took some time for our sports persons to assert themselves to garner a better deal, but i am happy it is happening now.

Stop-gap measures and patchy manoeuvrings cannot fix this. It is sad that our authorities are not still realizing this.

Time and again our sports persons will revolt and it will be common theme in our sports in the coming years, if we don’t plan out a strategy to develop and give the right dues to our sports persons.

Anyway the omnipotence of sporting associations have been quashed by a recent Delhi high court ruling. It is a breather for well wishers of sports in our country.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the organising committee of the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Indian Olympic Association comes within the ambit of the RTI Act

This is seriously some great news. So far our sports associations got away saying that they are “Independent, autonomous” bodies that need not divulge any information pertaining to their work under the RTI act.

If this rule is extrapolated, all our sporting bodies will come under the purview of RTI act and that could bring about serious changes in the way these organisations function. Most of these bodies have been personal fiefdoms of different politicians who used to head these organization for decades and more.

While the implosion was something that was bound to happen, the new court ruling provides sports aficionados of this nation something to cheer about. (here “sports” doesn’t take into account cricket!)


Musli Power and Irish Newspapers….

Posted in Football, India, Indian Football, Kerala, sports by clash on January 11, 2010

Sleaze has no boundaries. It sells. Be it Bamaku or Dublin, it has takers.

Indian Football achieved quite a lot in 2009. In fact it has been a steady progress, even 2008 was good enough.

We retained Nehru Cup, the U-23 team brought back the SAFF cup , a Federation Cup where rookies from the North East gave the premier teams a run for their money and so much more.

Unlike the usual trend our footballers appeared all over news, be it Baichung Bhutia for his sizzling win in the Reality TV dance show and the controversy that ensued or the launch of Football Players Association of India (FPAI) where footballers danced their hearts out, as if all of them wanted a direct call up from  Reality Dance shows.

So much for football in India? Yes, it was quite happening to say.

All these did  not  really make  the  International Media stand up and get notice our football, except for some blogs from the wilderness mentioning our football ,the improvements and achievements that was unfolding here.

Recently though, International media is picking up news about our football. Leading the way is the Irish Media.

Two articles have appeared in 2 Irish different media sources about Musli Power Churchill Brothers team, whose team members were accused of molesting an air-hostess mid air.

It is funny, it took words like molestation, Musli Power – an aphrodisiac and these concoction of spurious words spurred the attention of the world to stand up and take notice of our football.

While the first article was a news piece they picked up from some where in Irish Independent, today they have gone a bit further. Some one seems to have seriously done some research in whipping up this article.

It is pathetic and sad to see this kind of Journalism. We had a decent year, when it comes to football and no one bothered.

Suddenly we have a Musli Powered team being accused of molestation and they are all over.

Suddenly i felt, Indian Footballers are all molesters. Indian Clubs dont play football, they play molestation. Such pathetic has been the media response. The foreign and the Indian, alike Stink.

Simple.

Sleaze sells.

Kunnath Pharma, though came out saying that they will withdraw the sponsorship for the team, they should be happy with the Impact their “Musli Power” made. There is no better marketing strategy for an aphrodisiac than getting dragged in to a molestation scandal. The name is pasted all over the media.

Wonder this will lead to a libido over charge in our country. Beware, Musli Power could be coming to Ireland too. The media has built up the platform with right articles, just that Kunnath needs to cater to the demands overseas.

Ideal.

Newzealand herald :

clipped from www.nzherald.co.nz

Perhaps having sampled the sponsor’s product, three players were involved in an in-flight “molesting” incident involving a stewardess.
Unfortunate sponsorship alert! One of South Asia’s biggest soccer clubs, Churchill Brothers, could lose their major sponsor, aphrodisiac manufacturer Musli Power Xtra.

But it wasn’t their fault, according to club management: “It was very cramped,” said Churchill Alemao, patron of the club.

“We have written to the Civil Aviation Minister to call for more space. It is not sensible otherwise.” Quite right – airlines can’t be too careful in this day and age.
blog it

and, oh..yes guardian.co.uk :

clipped from www.guardian.co.uk
Indian side Musli Power Churchill Brothers say an in-flight “molesting” incident involving three players and a stewardess was the fault of the plane’s layout. “It was very cramped. We have written to the Civil Aviation Minister to call for more space. It is not sensible otherwise.” Club sponsors, aphrodisiac brand Musli Power Xtra, are “considering their position”.
blog it

Kerala Volleyball League (KVL)

Posted in India, Kerala, Kozhikkode, sports by clash on November 18, 2009

Kerala Volleyball League (KVL) is here.

The advert is a decent one with pathetic  music. Inspite of all these, kudos goes to Volleyball association of kerala. At least they are striving to make something happen and that clearly is a different path, compared to their other counterparts.

Mamooty obviously adds to the glamor quotient.  Now, if he is what the game really lacked, then let him be there. I don’t really care.

I read about the format in which it is going to appear. 9 days, 16 matches and live telecast, that doesn’t sound bad at all.  It is happening in Kozhikode means, crowd is a sure bet for a match held under flood lights.  So the organizers don’t really have to bother about that.  Probably some more intense campaign through the FM Radios  that litter the air space with all kind of tosh at the moment in Kerala will help.

Anyway i am eagerly waiting for KVL to happen. There is a lot of potential to be tapped in sports other than cricket. If it is packaged well, i am sure it will happen. Fingers crossed!!

To cater to market demands, Indian international volleyballers like Kishore Kumar has changed their looks, which they think will attract more youngsters to this game.

He says ;  “We have to package ourselves better. Everybody is excited about the new league, suddenly all the players are charged up. And since actor Mammootty is the league’s brand ambassador, we will have big crowds since he has thousands of fans in Kozhikode and Malappuram.”

The game also has it fans!