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Criticising is easy, learn to support

After body shamming Kate Middleton, Shobhaa De is back in action with a new target: Team India at the Olympics.

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Miss De tweeted this today ⬆️.

For those of who are unaware, De is best known for her depiction of socialites and sex in her works of fiction. Now I am not implying that De doesn’t have the right to comment about India’s performance, but such scathing remarks are uncalled for.
News Flash Miss De, these Olympians give their heart and soul for the games, they train with all their might because no matter how many medals they win in other events, the Olympics are their ultimate goal. No medal will ever be able to compete with an Olympic one. It takes great dedication and hard work to qualify for these events.

The statement shows how regressive our society’s attitude is towards sports. In a time when we should be encouraging our players’ comments like these are extremely disappointing and shameful. These players have fought the odds to reach where they are. With corruption in all federations and substandard infrastructure, it is by no means a cake walk to achieve success at the global level. Bar cricket all the sports are considered lowly in our country.
Miss De, this is the same Abhinav Bindra, who fetched our country’s first individual Gold medal 8 years ago in Beijing and today when he lost a medal by a miniscule margin of 0.1 point you post such demoralising comments? Yes, it hurts to lose, but do you ever stop and consider how these players feel after losing? You think they jump around with joy? Wouldn’t Abhinav Bindra himself want to end his career on a high? With a medal in hand?
And as far as taking selfies is concerned, aren’t you the one to talk Miss De, you roam around taking Pg 3 selfies yourself with your fellow socialites and then have the audacity to comment about the players. Now isn’t that hypocritical!?

A word of advise Miss De, if you can’t support them quit questioning the integrity and the dedication of our players.

This post was published by Youth Ki Awaaz

Shobhaa De, How You Taunted India’s Athletes Is Utterly “Disappointing And Shameful”

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Finding perfection in Football

It has been a busy summer in the world of football much to the delight of the fans this year. Starting with Real Madrid- Atletico Madrid reaching the Champions league finals, Argentina losing in a big tournament final yet again and now Portugal reaching the finals of the European cup. The trail of events appears to be perfectly normal, but going by the different strategies of play it makes you wonder what a perfect victory is?

Both the Champions league finalist Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid played unattractive football throughout the season, just managed to win against its opponents and then fought it out on penalties after 120 minutes of football couldn’t part them.

Argentina who should be applauded for their consistency in the past 3 years in big tournaments lost to Chile on penalties yet again. It was almost like a cruel rerun of the previous year. The difference being – Leo Messi missed his penalty, leading to the entire blame being placed on his shoulders yet again.

Moving to the Euro, Portugal has had an extremely blessed run up to the final. Failing to win any of their group stage matches, yet qualifying for the next round, Portugal’s first win in normal time came in their sixth match against Wales in the semi finals.

These instances make one wonder about “Perfection in football”, what is it? Is it one player who plays beautifully and wins its team matches single-handedly, or is it a well synced team that works as a well oiled unit or is perfection just winning? According to Italian World Cup winning Captain Fabio Cannavaro “the most enjoyable thing in football is marking and a perfect match ends at 0-0.” For his teammate Gianluca Zambrotta, “a perfect football match ends 1-0. That margin is more than enough to move forward.”

Football has been around for centuries. It has seen the rise and fall of many teams, Behind each team there is a footballing philosophy be it Total football of the Dutch, Joga Bonito of Brazil, Italian Catenaccio Spanish Tiki taka or the Dirty aggressive style of 2010’s Netherlands. All styles have had its highs and lows, winning its team the highest accolades at times and throwing them out of tournaments mercilessly on others. So then how do we figure out which one is perfect?

Spain enjoyed six year dominance over the footballing world courtesy their tika taka style of play. Some found it lacklustre and boring while others regarded it as an apex of one touch passing and applauded the clinically results it produced without fail with the team performing like one unit. Was tiki taka perfection?

An Italian is taught how to defend even before they are taught the ABC. Defending comes naturally to them, relying on long balls and counter attacks for goals. The Catenaccio style has been fruitful to the Italians and over time they have been successful in evolving it according to the need of the hour so is Catenaccio the answer to the question?

Joga Bonito would seem like the perfect philosophy. Both charming and mesmerising, it has been synonymous to Brazil. The awe-inspiring philosophy relied on attacking football, beautiful football. Seeing Brazil play the unattractive football they play today and lose miserably many believe Joga Bonito was perfection and desperately want the team to go back to it.

Diego Maradona won the world cup single-handedly in 1986. The same is expected out of Lionel Messi but even if that were to happen keeping his recent decision of retirement aside would that be a perfect win for Argentina? Wouldn’t it be perfect if the entire team performed?

Portugal reaching the finals of the Euro has surprised many, not because no one expected them to reach the finals but because of their failure to win any match in normal time until the semi-finals. Portugal has played poor football. The team is reliant on just one big name, no part of their game shows sparks of brilliance or promise and they seem to lack concrete game plan. They have looked average throughout the tournament unable to win matches yet they are going to contest the finals.

Portugal are far from perfect but what makes football perhaps the biggest and most exciting game in the world, is this unpredictability. You never know what will happen in a game of football. A red card, an own goal, or a wonder goal from 40-yards out. It keeps the teams, players, and fans constantly on their toes.

There is no such thing as perfect and trying to find is an impossible task. How football should be played is subjective, how people prefer watching it is also subjective. At the end of it, all that matters after lifting a trophy is that, you won it be it by playing beautifully or by showcasing its unattractive boring side.

This post was published by sportskeeda.com

http://www.sportskeeda.com/football/euro-2016-search-perfection-football

Bollywood Strangling Sports

The Olympics are around the corner and to build up the excitement the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) named Salman Khan aka Bhai the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for this edition of the games. Now Bhai is a beloved character and has endless fan following but is this a joke? Is the decision of someone who has nothing to do with sports being made the ambassador of International level games justified? Is he fit to play the role?

Ambassadors are made to inspire the sports persons, who will compete for the nation. What inspiration can Salman provide? The Olympics are a test of grit and determination to succeed in extremely competitive environment in the international arena, the inspiration that the players require should be someone who has felt the pressure, has been through this, one who has achieved for the country, the players need someone from the sports community to lead them. There is no dearth of such sporting personalities be it Milkha Singh, Leander Paes, Dhanraj Pillay or Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal or Mary Kom who have popularized and encouraged scores of girls into joining sports. If none of the above Sachin Tendulkar could have been a better suited Ambassador. Yes, cricket is not an Olympic sport but the Bharat Ratna winner has inspired many and is a legit sports personality.

This decision by the IOA has got a lot of flak from the sporting community. Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt took to Twitter with fervour demanding the need for a “Goodwill Ambassador.” Legendary athlete Milkha Singh also joined in condemning the IOA’s decision calling it ‘unfair’ and asked the government to intervene.

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With the games around the corner the IOA should be focussing all their energies in catering to the needs of the athletes instead of making controversial decisions that tick them off.

The appointment of Salman Khan reflects how our country is obsessed with Bollywood. This is not the first time such an incident has happened, in fact it’s a regular feat be it the opening and closing ceremony of the IPL, the world cups or even the recently started International Premier Tennis League where giants like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Pete Samparas were considered not enough to bring in the crows so Bollywood celebs like Deepika Padukone and Amir Khan were called in. A Tennis fan would have felt utterly humiliated after watching Amir Khan’s cringe inducing antiques with the tennis racquet in front of tennis giants that day.

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As a keen follower of sports I find this obsession with Bollywood absolutely insulting to sports. It is sad to see sports being overshadowed by Bollywood in India. Yes, we love our film industry but that doesn’t mean we have to drag it everywhere.

#Kohli’fied

Virat Kohli has become synonymous with Indian cricket in the past month. The one man army, it was he who kept  the Indian batting alive in the World Cup.  He seems to be possessing the Midas touch of late, be it any format of the game, he stamps his authority with ease. He is the most technically sound and an utterly fearless player today. But the best quality about him is he relies on sacred cricketing shots. He is neither a six hitter like Dhoni or Gayle nor does he rely on unconventional, unimaginable shots that AB de Villiers plays in T20/ODI cricket. Many considered these shots to be a necessity to succeed in T20, but Kohli proves them wrong. He has established himself as the best in T20 purely on technique. His cover drives, silken flicks and pull shots are a sight to behold.

Kohli’s unique techniques leaves the opposition frustrated. With the a combination of bat speed and strong flexible wrists Kohli creates extraordinary angles that defeat field placements. What’s inspiring is that Kohli was not born with these abilities, he worked hard for them. He was aware of his shortcomings as a player, he consciously made an effort to recognise them and remove them successfully. It is hard to believe that someone who plays the most exquisite cover drives was once a predominantly onside player. Evolving oneself by removing shortcomings is sign of a player who is destined for greatness and Kohli seems to be in cusp of greatness.

T20 World cup

Even though India didn’t win this world cup, it will remain in the heart of every cricket loving Indian as a happy memory. It was  during this world cup that one man wooed even his staunch haters. What he did was beyond magical, pulling of wins for India single-handedly. He gave it all for the team, requested the audience to cheer for the team instead of him, took responsibility for losing his wicket against New Zealand. Long gone are his days of filthily cussing. He has started owning up to his responsibilities as a team member and as a captain.

There are occasions when it sinks slowly into our consciousness that we are watching something special, something that happens rarely, extraordinary and beyond normal human effort and that we are simply lucky to be watching it. Kohli’s knock against Australia in the ‘virtual’ quarter final was precisely that. It was unbelievable. Like a surgeon who dissects his patient meticulously, Kohli dissected the Australian bowlers. He was patient yet aggressive showed perseverance and scads of passion. When India won he fell to his knees, emotionally and physically exhausted, he gave it all he had.

The New Sachin?

Kohli always says Sachin is his hero and he wants to be like him and many have started comparing the two  but labelling him as Sachin is wrong, for both of them are  unique. We always want to be our heroes, we believe in them, follow them but one day we become a hero ourselves and that is the best tribute we can give to our heroes. Virat Kohli has already become a hero, a hero different from Tendulkar. He now leads a generation that believes in him just like he did in Sachin and that is where the similarity ends. Sachin is God but India is home to many Gods..maybe we are witnessing the rise of a new one.

Electric England beat Star-crossed South Africa

The stage was set, Wankhede stood in all its glory for one of the two teams to make an impact. On the one hand was England, who were trying to recover from the humiliating loss to West Indies, they had to win this match to stay alive in the tournament. On the other were perennial favourites- South Africa. A team that spent 72 days touring India last year, a team that enjoys almost home like support in India. Everyone thought it would be South Africa, but fate had a different script in mind.

Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock provided a thunderous start to the innings. JP Duminy and the remaining players followed suit and the Proteas set a mammoth target of 230 runs. As soon as the last ball was bowled most of us had already written off England. But we were proved wrong. England had not come to be written off, they were here to cross the sea of runs and Joe Root turned out to be their Moses. Jason Roy started the English innings smashing 3 sixes and 5 fours, but a Kyle Abbott delivery marked the end of his innings. In walked Joe Root, he was a man on a mission, at one point it seemed every ball he touched reached the boundary. Root’s game was a perfect blend of orthodox and innovative shots. The South Africans bled runs everywhere. It also didn’t help that they gave 26 extras.

South Africa had essentially lost the match around the 15th over. The body language and demeanour of the players said it all. They started miss fielding! South African’s miss fielding! Dale Steyn leaked runs, Chris Morris cursed himself after getting hit for boundaries, Abbott threw wides , all these visible signs of frustrations. Protea Fire fizzled out, it fizzled out bad. It was classic South Africa, they had lost the match before losing it. But something unusual happened, as the last over approached. There was a change, suddenly there was an urgency in the South Africans to give it all they had, to win, they tightened the fielding, their bowling improved. They managed to get two wickets in two balls, but alas it was too late, England just needed one run to win and they got it. Had South Africa shown more of the character they showed in the last over throughout the innings , it would have been an easy win for them. Joe Root’s anchoring innings will go down in T20 history as one of the finest. As for South Africa, this match will join the list of those ‘unlucky ones’.

The Danish Girl

Opening the film is a marriage of two artists, Einar and Gerda in an apartment filled with paints and paintings in the Danish city of Copenhagen in the early years of the twentieth century. While wife Gerda is an illustrator of magazines like Vogue or La vie parisien, Einar’s strength are  landscapes. The artist couple seem completely congenial at first , but a tumultuous journey lies ahead.

One day Gerda’s model doesn’t turn up, lagging behind in her work she asks Einar to wear stockings and high heels so she can complete her painting. The revival of Einar’s ladylike emotions start from the moment Einar touches the stockings and white dress and Lili is born.Einar and Gerda initially only see this as a game, they created Lili, a woman, which is essentially Einar in dress and  makeup. But over time, the sense of wanting to become a woman is clear and overwhelming for Einar, it is no longer a game in disguise that Gerda had created.

The story is complex with several layers. It is the tale of Einar, an artist, shy and serious, Lili within the same body, frivolous and superficial, who did not want to paint and Gerda who is selfless, brave and  whose love for her husband, traps her between the two conflicting personalities of Einar and Lili.  A story that takes us to see the limits of love and authenticity. Two people worthy of admiration.

A story of courage, first known person to face a gender change operation, Lili’s, courageous battle against a guerilla of doctors who had her pinned down as a patient suffering from a range of mental illnesses. Matching her stride to stride is Gerda, who loves her husband deeply and  is supportive of  his  decision at every step, even when he decides to kill himself so Lili can live.

The director does a good job of portraying Einar, Lili and Gerda’s mental state of mind in scenes like when one day Gerda returns home to see Einar physically but his feminine posture makes it evident that it’s really Lili inside. The sheer brilliance of the scene breaks your heart and makes the helplessness of the characters palpable. Bravery, grief, extra-ordinary sacrificial love, joy, a sense of the tragic and of turmoil all tumble into the mix. The empathy and the pioneering spirit of the surgeon paves a path for hope in the future.

But the director misses out on certain issues that should have been explored with more depth like Gerda’s ambivalent sexuality. Was she a bisexual and that is why continued being sexually active with Lili? What exactly was the correlation between Lili’s transition and her artistic career. Does becoming a woman overpower her urge to paint, is it that simple and easy to just stop doing something so abruptly? It was Einar’s profession for crying out loud. What was the pioneer nature of Lili’s surgery? If you are making a movie on the first recorded sex change operation at least explain the procedure well in detail rather than the amateurish way in the movie. Lastly the director could have highlighted the liberating effect of Paris on Lili. Paris in the 1920’s was much more open than the rest of the world, it was the age of the Expatriate movement, the age of Bohemian culture. This was one of the reasons Gerda, Einar and Lili moved to Paris.

Watching Eddie Redmayne  act in the movie is a delight. He portrayed both characters with precision and expressed each emotion with absolute finesse. Alicia Vikander was perfect with every line and every emotion. Both of them were mesmerising and the photography stunning in Copenhagen, Dresden and Paris. Alexandre Desplat has provided a good background score. Overall the movie is good with flashes of brilliance.

Game.Set.Match.Fix

The Australian open also known as the ‘Happy slam’  was rocked by  allegations of a widespread match fixing racket.  With BBC and Buzzfeed News publishing a report exposing evidence of widespread speculation of match fixing the atmosphere at the Australian has been anything but cheerful.

An average fan may not be aware that Tennis is the most gambled on sport in the world. It allows mid-match bets and the scope for match fixing is immense. Fixing a match in tennis easy, as it deals only with a single player and doesn’t necessarily mean losing a match, but could mean taking money to drop a set or double fault.

Although none of the players were named, the report alleges that all of them have been ranked in the Top 50 and have won a grand slam in single or doubles tournament. What is disturbing, is that the report also states that the sport’s governing bodies have been aware of the suspicious activities involving numerous players, and have been anything but enthusiastic in addressing the problem. These  players have been flagged as suspicious time and again to the Tennis Integrity Unit, but no action has been taken.

The report draws from the August 2007 Poland open match between Nikolai Davydenko, ranked four and Martin Vassallo Arguello ranked 87th.   Davydenko was the overwhelming favorite, yet during the match and hours before it started more than $5 million was bet on his opponent. Seemingly cruising to victory, Davydenko retired early in the third set, raising speculations of fixing. Investigations did take place and although both the players were cleared of any charges by the Association of Tennis Professionals (A.T.P), the new report reveals that Davydenko had refused to cooperate in the investigation and his opponent was found to have extensive contacts with the members of an Italian gambling syndicate.

Lack of transparency in the governing bodies is another obstacle the game is facing. The above is not the only instance of the governing body remaining silent.  In 2013 Marian Cilic withdrew from Wimbledon stating a knee injury when the actual reason was a failed drug test in the previous tournament. Why was he allowed to cite an injury for a withdrawal when a failed drug test was the real reason? Andre Agassi failed a drug test due to the consumption of crystal meth in 1997, the public got to know about it in 2009, that too by reading his autobiography. If the governing bodies themselves indulge in such shady activities, who gives us the guarantee that our beloved sport is clean or at least attempts are being made to clean the muck.

Those close to the sport are not surprised, rumors of fixing have been doing the rounds for quite some time now. In an interview with the BBC, a player, who featured in several tour matches last year and is now a coach said “This (Match fixing) is like a secret on the tour that everybody knows, but we don’t talk about it.”

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic are the only grand slam winners in the past decade. If any of these players are involved in match-fixing, it would  be a calamitous blow to tennis. But the very fact that some of them have come forward and demanded names gives us solace that they might not be involved.

Andy Roddick tweeted: “In the age of leaks and social media, I don’t think secrets exist.” We certainly hope this secret is revealed, for no one wants tennis going down the controversial path football, cycling and cricket went. 

 

This post was published by YouthKiAwaaz.com

This ‘Secret’ In Tennis Is Something That ‘Everybody Knows But No One Talks About’

Messi-ah wins historic fifth

This year’s edition of the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala saw Lionel Messi win the award for a record fifth time. Messi beat rivals Neymar Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo, who walked away with the accolade the previous two years. The Argentine captain received 41.33% of all votes ahead of Portuguese captain Ronaldo who got 27.76% and Brazilian captain Neymar who earned 7.86% of the total votes. Messi won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 “It is a very special moment to win another Ballon d’Or after watching Cristiano win.  It’s incredible this is my fifth, more than I dreamed of as a kid.” said a very jubilant Messi. His son and fiancé were also present at the gala to celebrate the happy occasion.

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Fondly called as The Flea by his fans, Messi’s story is nothing short of a fairy-tale.  From playing on the streets of Rosario to playing under shimmering lights of the Camp Nou, Europe’s largest stadium, Messi’s journey has been exceptional, to say the very least. A boy from a middle class family, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11, stunting his physical development. He had to take hormone injections every day for three consecutive years. To add to his misery, Leo’s father lost his job leaving the family in a scramble for money. Messi had nothing and people who have nothing understand the value of things.“When he didn’t have a ball, he used to play with a bottle.” It’s said ‘fortune favours the brave’ and that is exactly what this tiny, skinny, fragile kid was- brave. Packing his dreams and ambitions in a suitcase Messi moved halfway across the globe to La Masia, Futbol Club, Barcelona’s youth academy to do what he loved the most, and the rest as the cliché goes, is history.

Making his debut in 2004, Messi established himself among the world’s best players before the age of 20 and was imperative in helping FC Barcelona achieve dominance in Europe by winning the historic sextuple. Being an avid Barca fan I still remember the day this skinny little boy debut a team dominated by the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto. What this boy could do with the ball was enough for us to see that he was clearly meant for great things in life and was fortunate enough to be embraced by the senior players in the team. Ronaldinho was quick to take him under his wing famously commenting that “Messi would be better than me” at the point everyone thought the Brazilian was just being modest and encouraging. But the Brazilian knew better. Messi quickly made a space for himself in the star studded team.

What Messi does with ball is mesmerizing, his finishing skills are deadly and his controls are flawless. Barcelona coach Luis Enrique describes him as “a player from another dimension”, with numbers, stats and records supplementing it. A nightmare for defenders, Messi defies all odds. He seems to know what defenders will do even before they do, easily evading even three to four opponents surrounding him, trashing the concept of’ ‘numerical advantage‘. Perhaps he possesses supernatural powers. His genius transcends tactics, rigidity and norm.

Leo has come a long way, I remember his first Ballon d’Or  Gala in 2007. He looked like an out of place kid who had been forced to wear a tux and sit quietly when he’d rather be on the field with a ball by his feet. 9 years later he won the award for the historic fifth time and in the audience was his son, cheering daddy. Witnessing that I think to myself  ýes it has been that long, from a kid to having a kid Messi has come a long way professionally and personally and so have we.

Pep Guardiola, Messi’s former manager once commented “Don’t write about him. Don’t try to describe him. Watch him.” and perhaps that’s the wisest advice anyone has given, for words cannot do justice to this magician.

#12YearsOfMessiMagic hoping for at least 12 more

Lodha panel set to revolutionize, but will BCCI comply?

In a country where cricket is a religion it is sad to see that corruption has seeped to its core  making it impure and satanic. The 2013 IPL spot fixing being the biggest crisis to hit the cricket governing body in India-  Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). The racquet involved players, officials, and team owners.  This is not the first time BCCI was involved in a scandal, with corruption penetrating so deep that many now rightfully refer to it as the Board of Cricket Corruption in India.

Efforts  made to ameliorate this body in the past have failed. In fresh attempts  to clean the muck spread by BCCI the Supreme Court of India set up a three-member panel, headed by Justice (Retd) R M Lodha in 2015 to improve cricket administration. The committee has foremost demanded transparency in the functioning of the BCCI.  A plea to bring BCCI under the  Right to Information (RTI) Act has been made. New criteria to be elected as an officer-bearer with the BCCI has also been proposed. Ministers and government official have been barred from holding a position in the body, an age limit of 70 years has been set along with a fixed tenure. Other recommendations include legalising betting and having two different bodies governing the IPL and BCCI along with appointment of three special officers – Ethics and Electoral officers and an ombudsman.

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The recommendations have hit the BCCI and State Cricket Associations like a sledgehammer. The panel has made it clear that in order to make the institution work individual interests will have to be given up. The recommendations look revolutionary on paper, set to eradicate all corrupt elements from the administration of this sacred sport. But it is important to note that these are  just suggestions that are not legally binding the BCCI to implement them.

The attempt to bring the BCCI under RTI is not new one, in 2011 sports minister Ajay Maken’s attempt to bring the BCCI under RTI with National Sports Development Bill went futile as several Cabinet minister in the then government had deep roots in the BCCI themselves .With an obscure amount of money flowing in this private body the  BCCI is like that hen laying golden eggs for anyone who gets involved with this institution. So we are back to square one as it is up to BCCI’s conscience to clean up their act. 

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