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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Career in Sports Other than Cricket - It’s just not Cricket…

Career in Sports Other than Cricket - It’s just not Cricket…





    Till about a decade ago, cricket was seen as the only viable option for children who wanted to make a career in sports. Parents wanted their children to be the next Tendulkars, Gangulys and Dravids. Any thoughts of playing football, lawn tennis, badminton, etc, were nipped in the bud. But not anymore.

    The current change in trend can be attributed to the rise of stars from other sports. Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, Vijender Singh, Narain Karthikeyan, to name a few, have contributed towards shifting the focus from cricket to other sports. These superstars have inspired the younger generation and have reaffirmed that cricket is not the ‘be all and end all.’ Lawn tennis, football and even racing are gaining in popularity and youngsters are working towards making a name for themselves in this field. 
    Apart from that, there are also a lot more opportunities available for today’s generation. A case in point is the Allianz Junior Football Camp to be held in 41 cities across India and organised by Bajaj Allianz. Over 50,000 students from across schools will compete and those short-listed will further compete at city and state-level screenings. Students will be tested on their football skills through matches or activities by a panel comprising renowned Indian football players. Mohun Bagan Football Club will carry out the selection for the east and northeast, Goa Football Federation for Goa and a panel of judges for Pune.
    The top four students will get an opportunity to practice with the FC Bayern Munich coaches on the club’s official training ground. They will meet football stars from FC Bayern Munich and attend a match at the Allianz Arena.
    Confirming this, Atish Pandey, a second year, BCom student from Modern College, Pune, who plays football with Lions FC, says, “There are a lot of under-14 and under-17 tournaments played these days which help children to develop an interest in football.” Concurs
Sandesh Gadkari, a striker with Pune FC and one of the selectors from Pune, “Camps like these are stepping stones in promoting sports as a career option in India.” 
    Majority of parents are sceptical though, about their children opting for a career in sports other than cricket. Agrees Atish, “My focus has always been football but my parents are not very supportive. They are ready to support me if I play cricket. This is one of the reasons I have not been able to pursue football aggressively.”
    But the trend seems to be changing. Pragnya Chandarana, mother of Badal
 Chandarana, who was one of the winners of the ‘Hunt for One from a Billion’ contest held recently by the Force India F1 Team Academy to identify racing talent in the country, has a different take on things. She says, “I am absolutely supportive of Badal pursuing this as a career option.” 
    By the look of things, it seems that Gen Next prefers to toe the un-toed line. Coupled with support of their family and opportunities to showcase their talent, these children are sure making headway for themselves.

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