Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chak De India...Rashtriya Khel Divas

The Olympics just ended last week and the Indian contingent including the medal winners - Sakshi Malik and P.V. Sindhu - have come back to a warm welcome. Also gaining accolades are the 'Produnova' girl Dipa Karmakar and shooter Abhinav Bindra who came so close.

Over the last month, the social networks have been hyperactive with discussion regarding sports in the country - from congratulations to criticisms of sports personnel, officials, administrators and even socialites and general public. 

Today India celebrates sport in a special way as we observe the birth anniversary of one of the country's leading hockey players who led India to Gold medals in three consecutive Olympic Games - in 1928, 1932 and 1936. 

Growing up we've played cricket, hockey, football, kabaddi, kho-kho, badminton, table tennis in the neighbourhood and at the summer camp.  We even participated in tournaments organised in our society and sometimes were part of the winning teams. I've played baseball a couple of time at the Family camp we used to attend at Khandala. I've tried tennis during one of my vacation job stints staying at Matheran. I've studied at a school (OLPS) that has produced sportspersons like Austin Coutinho and his protege Aditya Tare. My college (R.A. Podar) has been famous for successful cricketers it produced including Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar. But one sportsperson I've known personally was this girl who stayed just a block down my road who has been captain of the Indian Womens Hockey team - Sybil D'mello (now Miranda). And the mention of Indian hockey, especially womens, reminds me of 'Chak De India'

Nowadays, I have a renewed interest in sport thanks to the interest of my son in Football and the weekly training schedules he attends in School under the guidance of the coaching team led by Mr. Phil D'Cruz. I also get a daily dose of sport from Austin Coutinho's Cartoon Page.

Austin who studied in the same school as me is among the most knowledgeable sports journalist that I may ever have in my circle... He's been a regular on FirstPost where he covers a wide range of sports. However, having been a fast bowler of repute in the Mumbai club circuits in his time he has a special flavour for cricket. They are lots and lots of cricket movies in India, but no one would ever forget Lagaan.

Following the success of the Indian Premier League, another League has been gaining in popularity over the past three years - the Indian Super League. Managed to get passes from a friend for an ISL game between Mumbai and Pune last year... and was a thorough enjoyment to take my kids and their friends for the game. I also enjoyed watching two particular football movies - one from Bollywood - Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal , and the other from Gurinder Chadha - Bend It Like Beckham.

While team sports are what we all enjoy participating in, there are more challenges in individual performances. And an athlete who has made India proud by a Olympian who recently had a film honouring him - Milkha Singh - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Another athlete who has got recognition from Bollywood has been the steeplechaser Paan Singh Tomar.  

To end this post on a lighter note, there was this joke going around when Sindhu won the silver medal in the recent Olympics. It said that this man (or rather movie) should be given the credit for India's performance in badminton for attracting people to the sport. The movie is Humjoli and the man - Jeetu.

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