Weekend Planning

The upcoming weekend is going to be an exciting one for us – with that comes movies to watch, catching up on the week’s tv show episodes and ofcourse – football! There is nothing like watching the English Premier League matches at home on the telly with you friends or relatives and rooting for your favourite team. Somehow the English league is the one to watch and especially here in India, more football fans follow the English teams than the ones in Italy, Germany, Spain or other nations. Why? I’d say that it boils down to our connection with the British Isles, having once been under their rule, the charm of the English clubs, cities and town and perhaps the timings of the games as well (perfect for late evening watching in India) could also be a big factor! I plan to watch a few games over the next two days.

And ofcourse no game is complete without some good food. Just like our Western counterparts, we enjoy some good food and snacks as we watch the games on tv. And what food goes best with sports? Why pizza ofcourse. We plan to go get 4-5 large pepperoni & cheese pizzas from Dominos or perhaps barbeque chicken pizza and bring it to my place before the weekend. If we are running late and the match is about to start, we just order online and also look for e-coupon deals that e-coupon deals we can use for buying the pizza. Just look at a couple of the pics below – man my mouth is watering just thinking of the pizza!

“If we are running late and the match is about to start, we just order online and also look for e-coupon deals that we can use for buying the pizza. Just look at a couple of the pics below – man my mouth is watering just thinking of the pizza!”

And I’m always on the lookout for discounts that Dominos or other places can offer you; especially when they post them on Facebook or Twitter. And check this out, I also found a place that gives you a general discount for outlets that includes Domino’s. Any one who wants to avail of these offers from CupoNation can do so by clicking on the link. It comes in handy, especially when like us if you are planning on buying a few pizza pies at a time. We are a hungry bunch of guys, so we will surely finish the food by the first half of game one but then – hey, we can always order more, right?

The Ridiculous Behaviour Of Indian Cricket Fans

A huge bunch of Indians can be an intolerant & idiotic lot who sit in their mighty big well and believe that the world outside does not exist. This latest incident just highlights the moronic behavior of these assholes. Maria Sharapova earned the wrath of some Indian cricket fans who were miffed when she replied “I don’t” when an interviewer asked her if she knew who Sachin Tendulakr was. The reason the question was asked was because Tendulkar was in the stands along with some other other major celebrities including David Beckham. Sharapova knows who Beckham is and has met him a few times but being a Russian, who has also spent a lot of time in the US, she is not a cricket fan and is unaware of the man considered and called rather ridiculously as the ‘god of cricket’ by most Indian cricket fans as well as some abroad.

The response of these miffed idiots was to litter social media and in particular Maria’s official Facebook page with abuses, taunts and spam to show that they are are ignorant & intolerant bunch of idiots! They started a hastag in Twitter called #whoismariasharapova and the story of this incident was carried in numerous websites and the comments in some of them can shame the rest of us Indians who know how to differentiate between an insult and someone not knowing a sportsstar from a sport she does not follow and has no interest in.  Indians would not major stars of some other sports but cricket, tennis & football – yes they do know! And that’s because those sports are popular here. It’s simple logic and yet this simpleness escapes the “brains” of these idiots.

The behaviour of some section of Indian cricket fans is typical of the ignorance / rudeness / backward thinking of some sections of our society. This whole ‘incident’ has highlighted not Maria Sharapova’s ignorance of a sport that is celebrated in only a few nations but the fact that some Indians know nothing about the rest of the world! Most non-cricket playing nations would be hard pressed to name Tendulkar or any other top cricketer. It’s like ice hockey or baseball – 99% of Indians do not know the name of the NHL legends or the baseball greats whereas even little kids in Canada and the US will know their fav sport personalities and same for European & South American nations. I don’t like cricket, I personally couldn’t care any less about it. The only reason I know Sachin & Dravid and them players is because I live in India where these names are on constant rotation on tv, newspapers & social media. Stop acting like idiots and behave like decent human beings!

Silken Laumann On “Unsinkable”

Sportsmen & sportswomen are human too. Already an iconic figure in the sport of rowing, Canadian athlete Silken Laumann inspired many by winning a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics despite having had a horrific & serious injuries to her leg just a few weeks prior! The collision with another rower’s scull was so serious that it shattered her right ankle and shredded her calf muscles in that you could see the bone but five operations and a total stay in the hospital of approximately three weeks, Laumann was back on the water training by late June. Her efforts paid off with a bronze medal, and she was subsequently named Canadian of the Year by the Canadian Club in recognition and was selected to carry the Canadian Flag in the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

This year, age 49 Silken had published her book Unsinkable which focuses on her life & troubled childhood and also opens up in particular about the terror she felt and the verbal and physical abuse she experienced at the hands of her troubled and erratic mother, abuse that caused her feelings of unworthiness she battles to this day. She says this book took 5 years to write and came about as she did open up bits of her life during her long stint as a motivational speaker . Here is an interview with her by Fiona Forbes on The Rush.

India At The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

The XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics is currently being held at Sochi, Russia (7th Feb 2014 – 23rd Feb 2014). This winter olympic games is already marred by the by major controversies, including allegations of corruption leading to the aforementioned cost overruns, concerns for the safety and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes and supporters during the Games due to the country’s recent restrictions on the promotion of LGBT sexual relationships (which have led to ongoing protests) and various security concerns over threats by jihadist groups tied to the insurgency in the North Caucasus. Several fans from various nations have opted to boycott watching the games due to these factors.

Here’s my 2 cents worth – I wouldn’t boycott watching the Olympics if its an event I would normally watch. I’d still support my teams/athletes and watch the sports that I love. The sportsmen & women have not done anything wrong, so I’d support them and keep watching. But if there’s any way I can show my displeasure & disapproval to Mr. Putin and his government in other ways, I’d join in. But my issue is something else altogether and it’s to do with India and not Russia. One look at the different countries who’s athletes will be competing in the various sports sees a large nation missing – ofcourse it’s India! India has never had much success at the Summer Olympics, much less the Winter ones. We normally send one or two people to the Winter games (I’m not joking; last time in Vancouver we had 3 Indians representing our nation). This year I checked the competing nations and found no Indian flag! But there are 3 Indian athletes at the Olympics and they will competing.

Himanshu Thakur (Men’s Giant Slalom), Nadeem Iqbal (Men’s 15km Classical) and Shiva Keshavan (Luge Men’s Singles) are all Indians competing in their respective sport but will be under the Independent Olympic Participants category. This is because the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), who are responsible for selecting athletes to represent India, is suspended on 4 December 2012 due to non adherence of International Olympic Committee rules and on the basis of corruption, government interference. Several members of the IOA have been charged with crimes. The IOA was formally banned for not following the Olympic Charter in their elections, instead following the Indian government’s Sports Code. The IOA held elections under the Indian Sports Code due to a directive from the Delhi High Court. On 15 May 2013, International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to lift the ban on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as Indian representatives from the government and sports bodies reached an agreement with IOC officials but the suspension remained. It was announced on December 31, 2013 that India would be competing under the Olympic flag in Sochi. Elections by the Indian Olympic Association are scheduled two days after the opening ceremony, which would not provide enough time for the suspension to be lifted.

A shame India, a goddamn fucking shame indeed! My heart goes out to the 3 athletes and I hope they do well.

Your 2013 Men’s & Women’s Singles Champions

At the age of 28 Marion Bartoli won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon. At 28 years, 9 months, she is the fifth oldest first-time winner in the Open Era. She is the sixth woman in the Open Era to win Wimbledon without dropping a set, it has happened nine times in total. She is the first woman to win Wimbledon in the Open Era playing double-handed off both sides. It was her first victory on her 47th attempt.

Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon title and ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion with a hard-fought victory over world number one Novak Djokovic. Wimbledon is Murray’s second Grand Slam title after he won the 2012 US Open.

Leander Paes Still Plays At 40!

Indian tennis’ veteran star Leander Paes just turned 40 years old and he still wants to keep going and play in his seventh Olympics Games. He still features in the doubles events in the ATP Tour and the Davis Cup tournament, grinding it out with the younger lot. He is the only tennis player in the world who has featured in six consecutive Olympics. But the Indian says he still has a lot of fire in his belly to improve his game and play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Paes said he would reunite with his Czech partner Radek Stepanek, with whom he won the Australian Open last year to complete his career slam. An injury to Stepanek followed by surgery forced Paes to look for other partners and no partnership succeeded. Paes, whose has dropped out of top-10, said he was looking forward to play with Stepanek again. They will start with a tournament in England, which will be a warm-up for Wimbledon.

Having won seven doubles and six mixed doubles Grand Slam titles and finishing as runner up in numerous other Grand Slam finals, he is considered to be one of the greatest and most respected contemporary doubles and mixed doubles players in the world. He is among the most successful professional Indian tennis players and is also the former captain of the Indian Davis Cup team. He is the recipient of India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, in 1996–1997; the Arjuna Award in 1990; and the Padma Shri award in 2001 for his outstanding contribution to tennis in India. Paes completed the career grand slam in men’s doubles after winning the Australian Open in 2012.

I remember going to see him play the singles & doubles finals of a short lived tournament at the clay courts tournament held by the Cochin Oil Refireries at Ambalameedu back in 1991! I was15 and I went with a cousin and our uncle to see the singles & doubles finals, both in which he competed and lost. A friend of mine from school was also there and I ditched my uncle & cousin to sit with my buddy as we watched both finals. At the end we stood in line to get autographs and I’m pretty sure I still have his somewhere in my stuff, packed in the store room. Hope you continue to have success until you decide it’s time to retire Leander!

Kerala Rocked Hard With Celeb Scandals

The past couple of days has seen Kerala and India (in the second case) rocked by two different scandals. The first one was regarding an actor Kalabhavan Mani allegedly assaulting two forest officers in the night. Mani is a mostly comedic actor who has also donned on a few more serious roles as a hero or villain and won a few state & a national award for his role as a blind street singer. He is known to be more down to earth than most actors and is also known for his charity work. However a couple of days ago he was in the news for all he wrong reasons. Apparently he was traveling with friends in a car when they were stopped by two officials for routine car checking. The actor responded violently when he was asked to open the boot of the car and he & his friend, a doctor, assaulted the two officers. The forest officials said that Mani was inebriated. The officers sustained injuries on the chest, hands, legs and eyes one of them more serious. They were admitted to the Chalakudy Taluk Hospital.

Jaya Gopinath, who was travelling with her husband Maliyekkal Gopinath and Mani, filed a complaint against the officials, complaining that the officials verbally abused her and misbehaved with her.The actor had gotten himself admitted to a hospital in his native Chalakudy. The police have registered cases against both Mani and the injured forest officials.  The latest news is that Mani has gone into hiding immediately after the police registered a case against him under non-bailable sections of the IPC. A police team visited Mani’s new and ancestral houses at Chalakudy on Thursday to take him into custody in connection with the case, but he was found missing, said the police. However some friends of his say that he had left for Bangalore on Wednesday night to take part in the shooting of a Tamil Movie.

The second incident which happened a day later when former India Test bowler Sreesanth S. and two other players have been arrested by Delhi police on suspicion of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League, sports officials said on Thursday. Sreesant is a fellow Keralite and a fellow resident of Cochin. The IPL is kinda like the English Premier League or any of the European leagues for cricket and features Indian & most of the top foreign players from nations like England, Australia, in 9 teams. Sreesant, who has been in controversial situations before, was immediately suspended from an ILP matches along with his Rajasthan Royals team-mates & co-conspirators Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila and will face harsher actions if they are found guilty post a trial. Spot-fixing is the manipulation of individual incidents within a match which may not affect the outcome of the contest, most famously exposed in a London trial and jailing of three Pakistani cricketers in 2011.

Delhi’s police commissioner Neeraj Kumar alleged that the three Indian bowlers took money to concede a pre-determined number of runs in three different IPL matches. For 4m Indian rupees (£48,000) Sreesanth agreed to concede 13 or more runs in his second over of a May 9 match at Mohali, Kumar alleged. Sreesanth tucked a towel in his waistband to signal to a bookie, giving him enough time to “indulge in heavy betting”, the police chief said.

I’m not surprised in either case. The Indian film world has always been associated with corrupt politicians, underworld figures and lots of illegal activities going on. An actor with good connections misbehaving and thinking himself to be above the law is nothing news – Mani has had two other cases against him, both which were settled. Sreesanth is known for being arrogant and hot-headed and his antics have lost him more fans than he can ever know. And cricket & match-fixing is nothing new; this is India after all and corruption & illegal stuff is everyday news. Not surprised in that case either. It’s not the first match fixing scandal to rock cricket and it won’t be the last. And I couldn’t care much since I don’t watch it and I can’t stand the game.

There that’s my two cents worth!

Here Comes The Boom

Ok, let me tell you from the get go, this is a very predictable movie. Cheesy in places, corny in places and there’s a 100 such movies in various languages with the same type of storyline and a different sport/activity in which the hero excels in. The outcome is predictable yet you find yourself rooting for the underdog hero. Just change the sport – which in this case is Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC. There’s something in us that wants to be in the shoe of the kind of hero as portrayed by Kevin James and be the one who persists despite all the naysayers and the odds stacked against him.

Needless to say that despite knowing all this in advance and predicting the story I still wanted to watch it – because I like Kevin James. Plus the lovely Salma Hayek is in it! What more do you want? Directed by  Frank Coraci, written by Allan Loeb, Kevin James and Martin Solibakke, Here Comes The Boom also has Henry Winkler & Bas Rutten with a special appearance by Joe Rogan as himself. James plays Scott Voss, a one time high school & college wrestling champ, who went on to become a high school biology teacher. Initially he excelled as a teacher as well and won awards for his work, but 10 years on he finds himself a disillusion 42 year old man going through the motions in a school struggling to stay within their budget. The only time he seems motivated is when he tries to get a date with the sex school nurse Bella Flores (Hayek) but she keeps turning him down. When the principal announces a budget cut which means that the school will have to stop their music programme and let go of the music teacher Marty (Winkler), Scott can’t stay silent. Concerned for both his colleague and his students, Voss attempts to raise the $48,000 necessary to keep the music program alive.

At first Scott tries to work as night instructor for a citizenship class. While helping a Dutch immigrant Niko with extra classes at his home, Scott realizes that Niko was a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. While watching UFC at Niko’s apartment, Voss learns that the loser of the fight receives $10,000, which gives him the idea of raising the money by fighting in MMA himself. Voss then begins fighting in small MMA fights and gradually gaining more and more money for the school with training from Niko and Niko’s friend Mark DelaGrotte and support from Marty. Whenever he gets hurt he goes to Bella for a patch up and they slowly become closer and share moments of affection without actually dating. Scott also regains his passion for teaching and gets his students more involved in their classes. He also becomes a hero in his school for his efforts and has a brief notoriety in Youtube. Scott also helps his brother become a chef for the father of one of Scott’s students, so that she doesn’t have to spend her free time helping in the restaurant. This allows her to pursue her dream of music, while he pursues his dream of cooking.

As his story gets more popularity, he finds out that the UFC had approached Niko to offer Scott a fight in their league but Niko turned it down due to jealously. When confronted Niko apologies and tells Scott that he had gotten injured just before he was to debut in the UFC and was momentarily jealous of Scott – a 42 year old former college wrestler who is making a name now. They patch things up and get Joe Rogan to meet with them where Rogan gets Scott a match against Ken Dietrich, who opponent had to cancel. With much fanfare Scott, Niko, Mark & Marty travel to Las Vegas and have an enjoyable evening at the hotel. However Bella calls Scott and tells him that the Vice principal, who was entrusted with the funds has been embezzling both from the winnings and the school, meaning all his effort so far has been lost. Almost giving up hope Scott he can get $50,000 if he wins the fight and decides to go ahead with the fight. At the arena, Scott is touched to see that Rogan has arranged for Scott’s school band and some of the teachers to attend the fight.

As the fight begins Dietrich decides that he is going to teach Scott a lesson and goes all out against the debutante. Scott staggers and struggles for a couple of rounds before landing a few kicks and punches of his own. Barely in the match after a few rounds, he earns Dietrich’s respect for persisting. At the end going on pure will & adrenaline, Scott lifts and smashes the experience fighter onto the mat knocking him out and winning the fight. As the crowd goes wild, Scott’s team celebrates with him. Scott gets $50,000 for his victory, and saves the music program at his school. As the movie ends, Niko and the rest of the ll the students of the citizenship class become American citizens. Scott is shown enjoying the music being played in the school.

Whatdaya think? Cheesy, corny, predictable as hell? Yes but the MMA factor does make it stand out from the crowd and I felt that Kevin James deserves a lot of credit for making it real. A good afternoon’s watch 7 outta 10!

The Kids Are Alright!

Right next to my office building is an Upper Primary school run by the government. It looks more like a cleaner cowshed really, right in the center of the plot. On both sides of the school building is the playground – on the left side the boys play and on the right side the girls play. I don’t think that this is meant to be segregated this way but it just so happens that on the left side are what seems to be a version of a football field cum cricket pitch. There are two goal posts that I can see on one end – what looks like goal posts as there is no netting.

On the right side of the building the girls play on swings, see saws, a kind of carousel and I also see a few kids reading under the huge tree that offers a lot of shade. The girls seem to be going at a more leisurely pace during their break while the boys are in aggressive games of cricket almost everyday. The school hasn’t provided them with proper equipment so the boys make due with what I assume are sticks of plastic or bamboo and not proper cricket bats. No pads or caps and they play with a rubber ball – bright blue!! I’m two floors above yet I can see that bright blue. And the kids bowl underarm while the batsmen or batboys use all their might to swing at the balls toss to them. The fieldsmen run and jump and lunge to catch them.

As always across schools throughout the state, the players are quite serious about their game. Today there seems to be a lot of caught outs! One frustrated player threw his ‘bat’ 50 feet away in disgust as he was out within a minute of joining the game. Two boys at the far end were cracking jokes to each other – that’s what it seems like, cause they keep going off into fits of laughter, doubling over in the hilarity. I don’t see any teachers or gym teachers during these sessions. Reminds me of my childhood days in school although we played a lot more football than cricket in our school grounds.

The Sports For Me

Until I turned 22 I watched a lot of tennis. Table tennis too on occasion but tennis was it for me. And therefore I guess I would have to say that I preferred individual sports a whole lot more back then. I mean I did love football but until 1998 I rarely got to see any club football at home on tv and would have to depend solely on World Cup & European Championships which happened once every 4 years and once in a while they might show some Champions League final here or there. But tennis was readily available atleast because of the 4 Grand Slam events and Davis cup rounds that happen each year. So you got a lot more of tennis yearly on tv which was back then only the national channels, 2 in number, that the Indian government strictly regulated.

In 1991-92 cable tv channels started blooming all across India and in my area we started subscribing to it in 1992 and got 1 sports channel. All day sports, wow. Now we have 8 to 10 such channels of which I get around 6. Anyway, I got to see a lot more sports and my options were many. I watched all the grand slams and many other tournaments on a regular basis. I never got into sports like F1 or golf or any of the other individual sports. Slowly club football matches started being shown with some regularity but if I am not mistaken it was in 1998 that the two main sports channels, ESPN & Star Sports, started showing the English, Spanish, Italian & German football leagues every weekend and some Mondays too and ofcourse the UEFA Champions league and UEFA Cup competitions. With 10 sports coming in options went up and soon we got a whole lot more.

Along with football firmly establishing itself as my main sport to follow, hockey or ice hockey also found a footing in my heart. That was in 2000 and soon I was hooked. The NHL hockey is my second favourite sport and even if I rarely get to watch games, except for regular Youtube highlights clips of each game that I watch as much as I can. I perfer team or club sports. I feel more as a part of something rather than just in an individual. You can have a lot of stars in football & hockey but they still are team sports and it forms a sense of community that individual sports just can get you.

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Error Of Judgement My Ass

I haven’t watched a bit of the Olympics this year. I haven’t watched anything of the Olympics for many, many years except for maybe a bit of the opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies. I think perhaps a few snippets during the news or sports round up watching some medals being handed out. I’ve never had much of a passion for the Olympics but yeah any Indians going for victory will have my support. This year I was hopeful that Sania Nehwal would get a gold for us and although she did get a bronze (and that too when her opponent had to retire with an injury) that’s still a proud moment for us. She is one sportsperson that I support with a lot of passion and she seems to be a very sensible person.

Ofcourse this year we had that huge stupid little scene of a gatecrasher, a fucking gatecrasher, at the opening ceremony. A young lady who was a volunteer for the Indian Olympic delegation and a dancer for the opening ceremonies, who was supposed to escort the Indian contingent up to the entrance and then back off, decided that she had to join them as they marched into the stadium. Clad in a red track top, blue pants and sneakers, Madhura Honey Nagendra marched in the front of the contingent alongside flag-bearer Sushil Kumar, smiling and waving at the cameras, before disappearing midway. This has got to be one of the most stupidest things I have ever heard or seen of in a major sporting event. That was so stupid. And it was so funny to see her bright red top and blue jeans clash (badly) with the smartly attired women athletes in yellow saris and the men in suits. She look so dumb walking along with them. And this is what she has to say! “Error of judgement!” Watch an interview with her

On The 2012 London Olympics

I can remember watching the 1984 Olympics or just bits of it here and there. I was a child of just 8 years of age and the opening & closing ceremonies struck a chord in my young, impressionable mind. And I guess every 4 years since then Olympic games has been as much about the ceremonies that sandwich the sporting events as the sporting contests themselves. 1988 Seoul had this song called ‘Hand In Hand’ that for me was rather cheesy but struck a chord in many. It was quite popular in India for a while. That was also the year of the Ben Johnson doping scandal. Those who don’t know what it was, google him.

I missed most of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona for some reason but did catch a lot of the 1996 Atlanta games. I remember something about Juan Antonio Samaranch’s closing speech which indicated that he wasn’t happy about the games that year as he usually calls each games as the best ever but he only said “Well done Atlanta” and called the event “most exceptional. The next olympic games were in Sydney and he resumed his former statements. Now around 1997-98 I lost all interest in the olympics and watched mostly tennis, football and in a couple of more years NHL. I can’t remember watching much of the games that followed Atlanta – Sydney, Athens & Beijing. I don’t think I will watch much of this year’s Olympics as well.

Maybe some of the opening ceremonies and if possible the football & tennis matches here and there. I would like to see what happens to the Indian contingent, especially the tennis players with all the controversy surrounding Leander Paes (he has threatened to withdraw from London Olympics rather than play with Vardhan whose world ranking is 328, following the refusal of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to partner him). Let’s have a safe & fun games, whether I am watching or not.

A Good Biography / Memoir

Hmm funny enough I haven’t read that many biographies or memoirs but I actually find them very interesting and would like to read more. The very first one I read, and I remember this so well cause the book is something that I  hold very dear to me, is My Life & Game which tennis legend Bjorn Borg co-wrote along with the writer Eugene Scott. Published in 1980, it is a fascinating read in which Borg tells us his story from his childhood, to how he won his first real tennis racquet, to playing in the juniors and then on turning professional. He writes a lot about the events and things that happened to him uptil 1980. By the time the book was published, Borg had won his 5th French Open title and also won his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title.

He talks about his rivals, his friends, some great matches and tournaments. His endorsement deals are showcased. One of things I remember well is how he explains his initial emotional outbursts on losing badly during the junior years and how his coach smacked some sense into him. He wrote about being embarrassed about his behaviour and that led him to change his demenour and outlook and a legend was born – Borg the professional player was known for his stoic approach, barely any emotional displays and reported to have “ice” flowing in his veins aka the IceBorg nickname! The book also talks  about his romance with Romanian player Mariana Simionescu (who he later divorced) in July 1980.

Although I have since read a few more biographies/ memoirs, this one stands out as it was the first one I read. I was 11 when I started getting into liking & watching tennis and I got this book, along with a few others, back in 1988. I must have read this from cover to cover atleast 20 times. I think I sold this book along with a whole bunch of other just before I moved houses. But I always tend to remember this one very well.

My Sports Teams

Ok – just in case you are a new reader and have not yet seen the categories, which are shown on the sidebar, I mainly support to sports team. One a football team in the English Premier League and one in the NHL. Arsenal FC & Ottawa Senators. These are the two teams which I have wholeheartedly supported and can claim as my teams. I’ve supported Arsenal from 1998 and Senators from 2000. Although I’ve been a fan of & watched football from very early in my childhood, I usually watched international matches. I didn’t get to watch club football until 1998 and because some of my favourite players played in that club, I started supporting Arsenal. Now it’s like a part of me and I will forever be an Arsenal supported till the day that I die.

I got into hockey in the year 2000, when I just happened to watch some of the 1999-2000 Stanley Cup finals on ESPN. I got into slowly and then I also watched a sports weekly special in which they featured a little profile of each of the 30 NHL teams during the summer. The episode I happened to catch that day featured the Ottawa Senators. I remember then going online at a cyber cafe and reading a lot more about them and *snap* – they became my team and have been ever since and will forever be my team. No matter how great or how badly they perform.

Having said that I do also like other teams & clubs and from time to time envy their player squad (a coach once in a while) and wonder why my teams cannot get those players. Like this season for example – Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has this policy of buying small and building from within, focusing on the youth and not wanting to spend exorbitant sums of money for players. And the Sens are in the process of rebuilding and hence, with just a handful of bigger name players, are mostly a squad of lesser known names. In no way will I change my support for them just because of these things, cause that is temporary.

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The Hallowed Turf In England

This week & the next are all about the Champions, Wimbledon or simply Wimbledon. It’s the most prestigious tennis tournament in the calendar, held at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club located in the London suburb of Wimbledon ever since 1877. For professional tennis players this is the Stanley Cup, FIFA World Cup or Superbowl put together. Winning a single title here ensures your name in the history books in more ways than one and also get you a lifetime membership at the club.

The singles trophies, pictures here on the left, are beautiful & amongst the top 5 most prestigious trophies to win, certainly the most prestigious for an individual sport. The men’s trophy is easily the most handsomest trophy of all. It’s just so well made. Each year the winners get a smaller scale replica of the trophies for theirs to keep.

The first time I came to know about Wimbledon was during the 1987 championships. I remember watching Pat Cash winning the final and climbing the stands to hug his wife & family, leave a lasting impression on my 11 year old mind. My favourite players were Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Steffi Graf & Martina Navratilova. Ever since then watching the 2 week tournament was a yearly tradition for me till 1998. That year, I rediscovered football with a flaming passion and lost most of my interest in tennis as a sport. The last Wimbledon that I actually watched more than just bits of the final was in 2001, when veteran Goran Ivanisevic won his first and only Grand Slam title. I’ve watched bits of Roger Fedderer’s wins and maybe a set of Rafal Nadal win last year but that has been it.

I’ll probably never get into tennis as much as I used to but Wimbledon continues to always be magical for me. Maybe I’ll watch the finals this year.

My Favorite Sporting Event

When I was 6 years old the football World Cup took place in Spain, and Italy came out as victors. I was way too young to have a major impression on my mind but I was crazy about football as were most of my friends. Then 4 years later Mexico hosted the world’s best footballing nations in 1986 and it was fiesta of colourful images and celebration. I was a 10 year old football fan glued to some of the images that the showed on Kuwaiti television.

A local bubblegum company had also come up with the idea of creating a scrap book of the World Cup and featuring stickers of all the players in the tournament. When you bought their bubblegum you would get 5 of the stickers and you had to collect the entire lot, stick the players profile image in the respective countries pages and the first 10 people who submitted the book back got a prize. I remember me and my friends actively participating in the event although I didn’t get to finish the collection.

That was the beginning of my love affair with the world cup. Italia 1990 – I was back in India by then and school was just an obstacle in watching the games throughout the month of the tournament. I even had to do a school essay on the magic of the tournament. 1994 was a tough year for me but I still managed to watch most of the games telecast live from the US. And then came 1998 and France.

That was a big deal. I was studying at NIIT at the time and my classes started at 7am. The matches got over at 2:30 am – which meant sleep till 5:30am, get ready and leave for the institute by 6:30 am. The entire day would be spent in a daze and then evenings & nights were spent back in front of the tv. I even dreamed about football! 2002 was spent mostly watching games in my uncles house along with him. The matches were held in Asia – South Korea and Japan and hence easier time slots for us in India.

2006 was ok; I got to watch a lot of matches but nothing stands out for me at all. 2010 – well I barely watched a full match and work was the villain standing in front of me, baring me from enjoying the games. An plus my tv was on the fritz. I wasn’t even interested in watching many games either as I was going through a sea change in my life and wasn’t sure that football games held much meaning at that time.

I wonder how the next couple of World Cups will be?

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Delhi CW Games A Shamble

The Delhi Commonwealth Games preparation is fast becoming the biggest shame & joke for India. Nine days to go for the Commonwealth Games and in the face of international criticism after pictures of the dismal state of the Commonwealth Games Village were splashed world over, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday stepped in to clean up the Games mess. Pictures have been released of the filthy conditions of the housing for the athletes.

Most of us are familiar with the collapse of the overbridge on Tuesday had sparked off fears among the visiting international teams of the lack of safety. Lots of international athletes have pulled out of the Games in Delhi, citing the security & safety concerns as well as the pathetic conditions of the apartments where they are supposed to be put up. The concerns over infrastructure came to media attention in late September 2010 after media outlets began reporting on “filthy and unlivable conditions” at the games village and safety concerns after the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near the main stadium. The footbridge collapsed injuring 27 and seriously injuring five on 21 September 2010. On 22 September 2010, a stadium false ceiling partly collapsed into the competitors area of the weightlifting venue with no reported injuries.

It’s not cricket and therefore it seems that the money to make things glamarous is not spread across. Wake up India; this is reality. Can this nation actually host a proper international games that does not involve that dumb game of cricket?