F00t Ball

Playing FIFA on PC is one of my favorite pastimes. There have been numerous improvements from FIFA 97 to FIFA 08. The latest one being in the Manager Mode. From 07 onwards, the Manager Mode, meant 15 seasons as Manager of any football club, where one needed to grow up through the ranks to become a Top manager or in this game’s case, a 10 rating. We can start with any team of our choice. But If we decide to switch clubs in between, then only one among those which suits the manager’s current rating may be taken. Its an interesting mode to take up. Especially because we need to plan the future of the club as well as our own. The players, who are young grow and develop new skills, while the old guard need to work hard to keep their fitness levels up and their form also declines as time moves on. While I was playing, Rooney started with a 92 rating, went on till 9 and then his stats receded to 93 when he finally hung up his boots!

Also, there is a youth academy associated with the club from where we can include prodigious talent into the squad. They grow quickly and can become superstars as well.

As I was playing, I thought about the fate of Indian football and on the whole, Indian Sports. Is it that we lack in talent. I know, so much has been said and written about it. But, this is something that I ve been wanting to write for a long time now. Indian Football.

Have you ever tried switching between channels, one showing, say, Birm,ingham City vs Derby County and anotehr showing East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan. The difference is there to see. The first match is between two teams battling for relegation in the English Premier League, while the latter is between two teams enjoying positions at the top of the table. I m sounding too much like the commentator on FIFA…lolz…Seriously, the contrast is there to be seen. We see TOP quality football in the first case while all we can see is DULL football being played on a Duller looking pitch in the second case. Most of us would ve seen how the Europeans and Brazilians and of course, the top Asian teams play their football. Lets analyse how football is played in India.

It looks like a ‘clear the ball from the back’, ‘shoot if 20 m away from goal’ kinda game. No coordination. No creativity. In one of very few matches I saw because of being totally jobless, the same pattern was followed and the goal came off a goalkeeping error or shall we blame the uneven bounce on the pitch for it? The way the ball is cleared is also funny. There would be absolutely no trace of an opponent trying to latch onto to a lapse of concentration from the defender. Still, the defender would jump, and shoot the ball after “Running in the Air” and more often than not, the ball would end up within his own half though he would ve cleared the ball from outside the shooting zone of the oppisition.

I envy the goalkeeper though. He gets paid for just standing there, collect the ball if it goes inside the goal and give it back to the strikers for restart. During corners and free kicks, all he does is walk from one end of the goal post to the other. Once in a while, he may just stick out his hand and the ball will be deflected from the path it was taking towards the striker. Even if it went to the striker, there would ve been no harm to the scoreline. THe strikers have been trained to shoot for the moon. I wonder, whether the goalkeeper have ever used their ‘Foot’ to move the ball. The goal kicks are taken by one of the defenders and once, believe it or not, a striker came running all the way from the otehr half to take the goal kick!

And finally, the part of the team considered most important for a team’s style of play ( did I mention STYLE? ), the midfield. If by any chance, the ball comes to them, they would try a few passes and the ball may go to their counterparts, if it doesnt, they take it to the wings and then try to do tricks and get the first touch itself so heavy that, the ball goes out for a goal kick. If they do get the trick right by luck, they will pass it to the opposition defense and the ‘clear and shoot’ game will continue.

And this is not a school team or a bunch of kids playing together for the first time on the streets. This is the way professional soccer is played in India.

Such is the sad state of Indian Football! Its not about the talent, Its about the way the game is run in the country. There is no money in the game. And to top it off, Corrupt Officials who care only about their pockets. What is a guy who may not have even kicked a ball at school doing as the AIFF President? Why is such a hue and cry raised when the current Indian coach asked the international players to be excluded from local tourneys? He was just trying to protect the players from fatigue before an international fixture. And finally, when they do lose by a huge margin, they sack the coach. Drop a few players and the pattern repeats all over.

I havent done anything for the sport in the country. I dont think its fair to blame each other for the present scenario. I hope that by 2050, India would ve moved into the top 100 in FIFA world Rankings. Till then, I ll live my life as a Virtual Manager during those free times on FIFA and build my team and play the beautiful game, the way I always liked.

Hang on, I think, PCs installed with FIFA should be supplied to players and coaches in Indian football. Let them learn a few tactics from the AI and maybe, that ll change the way teams approach a game, instead of the ‘clear and shoot’ game!

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About milcom
A software developer by profession, Milcom is a football lover and considers music as his religion. While he is not working, he likes reading blogs, listening to music, reading novels or simply sitting idle, in which he is a world champion.

One Response to F00t Ball

  1. Thor says:

    well, i have nothing to add.
    except one lament.

    The 1983 Cricket world cup victory was the worst thing that ever happened to Indian Sports.

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