Dreams it is said, beget reality. At the advent of every new year, the All India Football Federation, by putting forth arguments that appear both cogent and plausible, paints such a rosy picture of the ‘beautiful game’ in our country that it is hard not to fall in their trap and have the temerity, once again, to dream of a better future.
However, these dreams have had little effect on the actual — it remains grim and, perhaps, beyond salvage, going by the deplorable performance of the national team last year — our FIFA ranking slipped from 126 to 157.
So with the dawn of 2007, the entire pantomime was repeated once again by the AIFF mandarins on Wednesday, with the president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi acting as a virtuoso conductor of a willing orchestra.
Figures were thrown at the journalists that showed that our National Football League and the Santosh Trophy commanded more viewership than a Manchester United-Liverpool derby!
In between, there was also a request to the English FA to reschedule their matches when the NFL is on, and talks of NFL being beamed live in Dubai and Hong Kong, besides it capturing the imagination of Asia. All of which would be fine if the AIFF had a concrete roadmap to back their claims of improving the standard of the sport in the country.
However, at a press conference called to announce the launch of the 11th edition of the NFL on Wednesday when quizzed about lack of infrastructure, environment and results, all Dasmunsi could come up with was: “I will call a press conference next week to address these issues.
“This conference is called only for the promotion of the NFL and for our NFL sponsors, so please refrain from asking other questions.”
In between, Dasmunsi made some important announcements like, “After the first four rounds, we (the NFL committee) will sit down with the clubs and assess the performance of the referees and if the need is felt, we can go for foreign referees for some of the matches with more spectator interest” and “FIFA president Sepp Blatter will visit India in the first quarter of the year”, but that was it.
To more probing questions, Dasmunsi was his usual laconic and brusque self, his answers ranging from “Are you coming to a press conference for the first time?” to “I am not obliged to answer this question" to "I will answer all these queries next week”.
Well, dream on, then.