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Bhaichung, Vijayan question India�s football culture

By The Assam Tribune
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NEW DELHI, June 10: �Sleeping giants�, �passionate giants�, so says FIFA but it�s cheerleaders that best describes India when the world�s biggest single sport spectacle comes around every four years.

Playing in a FIFA World Cup remains a pipe dream for India and if stalwarts of the game � such as Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan � are to be believed, the scenario is unlikely to change anytime soon with distinct lack of �football culture� in the country.

On and off, here and there, football is discussed in the build-up to the quadrennial FIFA event, but hopes of competing continue to border on absurdity.

�I think that will remain so till we have a strong sporting culture, a strong football culture,� Bhutia, who wore the blue jersey a record 104 times during an illustrious career spanning a decade and a half, told PTI.

Events, such as a friendly international involving Lionel Messi�s Argentina and a star-studded Bayern Munich turning up for Bhutia�s farewell game, did generate unprecedented frenzy all over the country but these at best can be termed as exceptions.

But the 41-year-old Bhutia feels more �needs to be done� for the global sport in a country otherwise enamoured with cricket.

FIFA remains convinced of football�s potential in the world�s second most populous nation, its belief bookended by the successful hosting of the U-17 World Cup last year.

After a string of impressive results over the last couple of years, India are currently ranked 97th in the FIFA chart, but rankings alone are not a true reflection of progress.

�It�s obviously great that we have done well in recent times, but if you talk of World Cup, then it�s a different thing,� Bhutia said, reiterating, �building a football culture is paramount�.

�There is no dearth of talent, the infrastructure is much better now, and youth development schemes are being initiated. But culture is one thing that is still missing,� the �Sikkimese Sniper� harped.

The 41-year-old Bhutia himself is one of India�s best strikers to have played the game. � PTI

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Bhaichung, Vijayan question India�s football culture

NEW DELHI, June 10: �Sleeping giants�, �passionate giants�, so says FIFA but it�s cheerleaders that best describes India when the world�s biggest single sport spectacle comes around every four years.

Playing in a FIFA World Cup remains a pipe dream for India and if stalwarts of the game � such as Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan � are to be believed, the scenario is unlikely to change anytime soon with distinct lack of �football culture� in the country.

On and off, here and there, football is discussed in the build-up to the quadrennial FIFA event, but hopes of competing continue to border on absurdity.

�I think that will remain so till we have a strong sporting culture, a strong football culture,� Bhutia, who wore the blue jersey a record 104 times during an illustrious career spanning a decade and a half, told PTI.

Events, such as a friendly international involving Lionel Messi�s Argentina and a star-studded Bayern Munich turning up for Bhutia�s farewell game, did generate unprecedented frenzy all over the country but these at best can be termed as exceptions.

But the 41-year-old Bhutia feels more �needs to be done� for the global sport in a country otherwise enamoured with cricket.

FIFA remains convinced of football�s potential in the world�s second most populous nation, its belief bookended by the successful hosting of the U-17 World Cup last year.

After a string of impressive results over the last couple of years, India are currently ranked 97th in the FIFA chart, but rankings alone are not a true reflection of progress.

�It�s obviously great that we have done well in recent times, but if you talk of World Cup, then it�s a different thing,� Bhutia said, reiterating, �building a football culture is paramount�.

�There is no dearth of talent, the infrastructure is much better now, and youth development schemes are being initiated. But culture is one thing that is still missing,� the �Sikkimese Sniper� harped.

The 41-year-old Bhutia himself is one of India�s best strikers to have played the game. � PTI

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