Football is a game that requires strength, loads of fitness and cleverness to be played. It is a game of 90 minutes. There are two teams. Each team can have a maximum of 11 players and a minimum of 7 players. There are two goalposts. The goalkeepers from each of the teams prevent the ball from entering the goal area. The other players try to zigzag their way ahead with the ball getting kicked by them. They try to pass the opponents to score a goal. It is a highly intense game with excitement, emotion, blood and sweat.
In the ancient days, football was not made of leather. In some places, people blew up pigs’ bladders to make footballs. In the Mesoamerican culture, football was played with a rock. It denoted the Sun God. The unfortunate thing was, the losing team’s captain was sacrificed to the god. This element of violence and barbarism in football continued even when the early signs of modern football started emerging in England. As the world moved in the 19th century, this game got separated into two forms. In one form, there was the provision to carry the ball with hands and in the other, handling the ball was forbidden except for the goalkeeper. During this time, the rules of the game were set and the violence associated with it was largely reduced.
Football, unlike cricket, has no moment of dullness. There is excitement till the last second of the 90-minute game. The joy of passing the ball from the jungle of opponents and the joy of smashing the ball to the goal is priceless. As the player is moving forward with the ball, there is always that danger of getting the ball snatched away by the opponent. Then there are technically expert players like Messi or Beckham who magically make the ball take a curve-turn all the while in the air.
Playing football needs serious body fitness. The players have to run and remain active until the last moment of the game. They have to chase the ball and the opponent players to intercept; they have to protect their goals each and every second. The head-balls, the chest-pass, the rabona, the scissor kick - all these techniques are works of art!
Then there are heated exchanges among the players. The players take the competition very seriously. I will never forget the head-butt of Zidane or the attitude of Ronaldo. At the same time, I will never forget the Croatian president hugging the players of the country who sadly lost the World Cup Final in 2018. The emotions run high.
India is known for Cricket. As a result, football gets less attention here. The Bengalis are the forerunners in the football world in India. The All India Football Federation is doing all it can to promote football in the country. Apart from the traditional Santosh Trophy, in India, there are two football leagues - I-League and the Super League. Gradually, football is gaining traction in India. In fact, India is gradually getting recognised in the international football world. The 2017 U 17 Football World cup was held in India. This is the first time that a major FIFA event took place in the country. There are many football players like Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Anirudh Thapa and many more who are relevant in the psyche of the Indians.
Football is a game where people have to give their hundred per cent. There is no pretension. It is not just a game of tactics and strength but also a game of emotions.