Football: In the Land of Nawabs

Contributed by: Kamzason Hangsing

Dated: 10th July, 2013

Football and Lucknow? Did the Nawabs play Football? Just imagining, it would have been cool if they did… Anyway, I was not so hopeful about a football scene to be as interesting as it is in Kolkata or North-eastern states, Kerala and few more. When I first came to Lucknow, I could not see a soul playing football except the KHEL children with whom we play. I was fortunate enough to have a colleague, Priyank Simon, a footballer himself, who introduced me to football in Lucknow. I could see players who have got potential in them but were too busy with their studies or work – which is not bad but at the same time quite weird because due to these players not only the team suffers but even the fixture of the tournament has to be changed! I have this impression that Football lovers (I mean the real ones!!) in Lucknow seem to be like black sheep.
For almost 10 months now, I have been looking around for a place to play, but to my surprise I realized that I was blind not to see a big park just 50 footsteps away from where I was residing! It was a nice feeling to find a place to play, better was to see small children playing football. As I entered the park, I was quite confused if to play or not, not knowing how these children would react, I went closer to them but then again told myself to rather watch them play.

Watching these children play, I started reminiscing those days when I used to play with my friends when I was their age. I started relating these children with my play mates from my childhood days. Things were going fine but not for long. As I began to play with them, things were not as good as they seemed to be.

I would like to share few things I have observed with the children I have played with in this park and and which I have been trying to work-on with them.

  • They spend more time quarreling or talking among themselves than playing.
  • They are too concerned about how many goals they score, and have no concern for dominating the game with good ball possession and have fun with the ball.
  • The children tend to play a very individualistic game and seem to have little idea about team-work. They play like football is an individual game rather than a team-game.
  • The children are very sensitive. For instance, for a minor tackle or push, they would come to a position wherein if a foul is not being considered, they would leave the game or debate about it for another 15 minutes. Even worse is if a foul is committed on the owner of the ball, either he will have his way or he will take the ball and leave.
  • The children are so free with slangs, I find it very disturbing to hear them. Moreover, their words are so destructive (calling names, etc), instead of a motivating one.
  • They are less concerned about warm-up, drills, etc. All they want is to play a match. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • There is a lack of sportsmanship in terms of sticking to rules and regulations, in other words, fair-play.

Despite writing about all these observations, these children are very smart and enthusiastic. The fact that they come to play in the morning instead of sleeping for extra hours, is something praise worthy. I started playing with 2 children in the morning and now the park has at least 10 children every day. Though I do not mean to undermine Cricket but while many others play cricket, these few children choosing to play the uncommon (in Lucknow at least) sport, football, is one reason that makes me feel good about these children.

I believe there must be teachers or coaches who must be working with similar set of children. There may be times when you feel helpless or feel that there is no point in trying to show the other side of the game, and I do feel the same many a times. It is difficult to keep the spirit high everyday but no wonder the answer to this challenge came from yet another child who told me that, “this is just the beginning, it has to be this way only… you have to make something out of it.” Now, I believe it was more about me than them; I hope it brings about positive change in me as much as I want to see it in the children.