To an Indian, it’s cricket all the way! Cricket is a religion for millions of patriotic Indians who breathe nationalism with the success of their cricket stars. But Sunday, December 18 has brought in a change. It was a day when KL Rahul missing the double ton didn’t make as much news as our junior hockey team lifting the World Cup after 15 years.
Sunday, December 18 also marked the final of the Indian Super League (ISL) that witnessed a nail-biting finish with the Atletico de Kolkata romping home against the Kerala Blusters. A die-hard cricket fan in a friend was more glued to the screen following the deeds of our hockey stars and footballers rather than why Virat Kohli got out cheaply in Chennai.
True, our non-cricketing stars have arrived. Rewind a bit, just after the Rio Olympics, wrestler Sakshi Malik and shuttler PV Sindhu became superstars overnight. They did the country proud by winning medals at the Olympics. Endorsements, appearances, felicitations followed and we went ga-ga over their success. And then there is golfer Aditi Ashok, who made us proud winning the Qatar Open.
And we didn’t stop after that. Sindhu’s triumph in the China Open made headlines. Her victory over Spaniard Carolina Marin recently was celebrated as sweet revenge. After all, it was Marin who smashed her dream of clinching the gold at Rio. Sakshi on the other hand is making news off the court. The news of her engagement to wrestler Satyaward Kadian was splashed all over. Yes, she is yet to make news for the sport she is known for post the Olympics, but let’s face it, she is our darling.
The purpose of this piece is to highlight the fact that there’s more to Indian sport than just cricket. Yes, our cricketers have brought laurels to our country over the years, yet, India is not only about the 22-yards. The achievements of our wrestlers and golfers should be equally lauded and there is a perceptible difference in our mindset which is ushering in a change and a major change.
An average Indian tracks what Sindhu is up to. The World Cup winning hockey side is revered for bringing back India’s lost glory in the game that was revolutionised by Dhyan Chand. One may say, this trend is nothing new. Haven’t we been proud of V. Anand, Abhinav Bindra, Leander Paes, Sania MIrza, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom and others who at different points of time have brought Indians glory? Yes, we are proud of them, but it has always been back to the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and others.
What they draw in terms of endorsement fees is much more than what Kom and Sania can charge? But, cricket sells and it is this archaic mentality that has discouraged parents from putting their children in other sports. However, Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu and others have been an inspiration. Perhaps, even parents have realised that there’s life beyond cricket.
Out of 100 millions, only the best eleven make it to the team. And with the craze surrounding cricket still persisting, chances of your child donning the India colours as a cricketer can only get tougher.
On the contrary, our badminton players, golfers, shooters and wrestlers despite lacking glamour have made us sit back and introspect. They have fought adversities and indifference to reach the zenith. An Olympic medal any day is much more precious than a series victory against a beleaguered English side. And this doesn’t tantamount to demeaning our cricketers.
The Word Cup victory of the India Juniors should set a trend and ensure that every sportsperson representing the country gets his due. Yes, there is a change in our approach towards our non- cricketing heroes, but we need many a December 18 in our lives, because that would set the path for a bright future.
Time to hail our heroes! Well done India!