|Old Trafford- Manchester United|
Before you are disappointed about reading about football, think again. I don’t want to change your leanings by imposing my love for Manchester United so that there is an addition to the followers nor am I trying to convert you to a football lover. The English Premier League started on Friday the 13th and I would be busy for the next months so wanted to give you a heads up.
Having represented my school and college in cricket and football and being a father to a young son, I identify the inherent love to compete in sports which gives an outlet to the pent up emotions. Nothing like trying to outdo one another by pitting your physiological escapades in the confines of a playing field governed by a set of rules. I always played to win not just for the recreation which is why the camaraderie and bonhomie took a backseat in the pursuit of the winning mentality. The reason why clubs like Manchester United flourish is not just about the football but the entire marketing package that instills a sense of belonging. I started following clubs or franchisees in my college days given the time on hand to pursue not just hobbies but open up horizons towards different facets which life has to offer. By the time the professional stint came to the forefront choices were limited only to self preservation and a presentable personality by going to gymnasiums for strength and endurance. The passion also took a backseat since I did not want to start from scratch in a sports club or sports complex so limited myself to running on the roads for half an hour daily to maintain my scarecrow physique.
India is opening up to market forces by building on the regional divide by coming up with professional leagues across all sports such as cricket(IPL), hockey(HIL), football(ISL), badminton, kabaddi(PKL), snooker, boxing, wrestling not just for catchy slogans but also give recognition and a platform to express themselves as professional sports persons. We all read in the media about stories dominated by sportsmen and women excelling at different levels, which I want to add to by sharing an example of my batch mate from college. Sandeep completed his engineering in the stipulated time frame and then scored 93 percentile in his CAT exams by getting admission in IMT, Nagpur, one of the premier management institutes in the country after which he was placed in Tata Chemicals where he won the Sales Manager of the year for successive years after which he shifted to his own security and manpower consulting firm under the aegis of his father and uncle. He was still not where he wanted to be so he shifted to Mumbai to pursue his love for football by becoming a coach for a paltry sum of 10k as a start. Today he’s been at it for the last four years and is the manager of an upcoming team in the elite division, Mumbai Strikers which just goes to show with the economy opening up, there won’t just be Sachins(my demi-god), Milkha, PT Usha, PV Sindhu, Sania Mirza but also numerous Sandeeps, sport science doctors, nutritionists, infrastructure, not just participation but also medals in the long run in Asian, World and Olympic competitions because it is not about a football club but about winners. I followed AC Milan in Italy, FC Barcelona in Spain, Manchester United in England because they were the best at what they did. Individuals born in the 70’s and 80’s would have a majority of Liverpool supporters for the success that they enjoyed at the European and English levels and the same reasoning can be transposed to Manchester United supporters at the turn of the century.
It wasn’t just the football as I said earlier, it were the alpha-males that played for a start, Cantona, Beckham, Ronaldo, Pogba etc but also the man management skills of the manager Sir Alex Fergusson who was able to win 13 league titles in a 25 year span. It is one of the three richest clubs in the world according to revenue along with Real Madrid and Barcelona and has a global fan base transcending nationalities and cultures. Their sponsorship and kit deals are multi million affairs and are the talk of the town as and when they do happen. The football and the beer is eventually what keeps me interested and I intend to follow till next April and many years beyond…