Ambar Bhattacharya, abptakmaa, Kolkata, 14th Dec 2019 : Bala Devi, Indian women football team’s captain, urges people to come and support their football, while basketball star Nima Bhutia is still looking for India to adopt to the modern system of playing.
Beyond the Finish Line is an initiative of Procam International and Empowerment Partner GoSports Foundation to recognise and highlight the stories of those who have made a difference in sport or through sport. The event conducted at The Oberoi Grand, the event’s hospitality partner, And hosted by Dr. Boria Majumdar.
Talking about women’s football, Bala Devi said: “We are still far behind. But things have improved. The biggest struggle for us begins at home, in our locality where we are constantly discouraged to take up sports. I fought those adversities and was even more determined when in 2007 I saw a derby at salt lake stadium. One lakh people cheering for football. I wanted to play football come what may.”
Then she added after a pause: “We play really good football. People should come and see us playing. We will entertain them and we are determined to win and make all our supporters proud.”
Rennedy Singh, President of FPAI and former Indian football skipper, said: “We need infrastructure. North East produces most number of footballers. If we get proper infrastructure in North East we will produce world class players. Indian football has improved a lot. We have become one of the best sides defensively. But offensively we have to improve. Other than Sunil Chetri and a handful of players we are not ready.”
“I played for 12 years for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan we had lakhs of supporters, but training and tactically we were poor. What ISL has done is bring best coaching and tactical expertise to the game. My boss David Platt, in Pune FC, opened a new world for me.”
Nima Bhutia, at five foot something, is a path breaker in more ways than one. People in Sikkim don’t like basketball. She was short. The state has only one basketball court.
So she moves to Madhya Pradesh to pursue her dreams. “No one wants us to play basketball in my state. So I had to move to MP to play for senior Nationals. I had to fight some preconceived notions. With short height you can’t play basketball. But with fast breaks, speed, endurance and aggressiveness things change. Indian basketball is still far behind.”
“If we could get players from WNBA to come and we have icons more girls will come forward. We have enormous possibilities. All we need is a fair chance.”
Argentine ace and legend Hernan Crespo was a patient listener. When time came to speak, he said: “Follow your passion. Then no sacrifice looks like a sacrifice. It was not easy to leave home in Argentina and come to another continent to play for Parma in Italy at 21. Then the most important thing is to adapt. I went to Italy and adapted to catanicho, their language and culture, and then I went to England and adapted to the hard fought European football.”
Talking about Diego Maradona, he said: “He is God to us. He changed our football. He changed the way we saw football. He changed Argentina.” Publicity : Carpediem Communique.