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Let India’s footie train-ing

Saurabh Datar comes up with an innovative, yet sure-shot away to get the Indian football team to score in future World Cups

The FIFA World Cup 2010 draws are out. And there isn’t exactly a group of death per se, except for Ivory Coast, which is in the same group as Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. This means an almost certain death for the small African nation, which relies heavily on Didier Drogba’s strength and prowess. Drogba cribbing about his ‘group of death’ is totally understandable. But Brazil coach Dunga saying the same thing? Brazil probably has more depth in its squad than most other countries combined. In fact, my guess is that Brazil could probably field their goalkeeper as a striker and Kaka as the defender and still eke out a win against one of the minnows. Heck, they could even beat France with that, considering their game play could even put an otherwise hyperactive Akshay Kumar in most Priyadarshan films to sleep. In fact, most people would rather watch the Twilight series than watch France (men) play football. Watching the French women (on the field and otherwise) is a preference any day. Sigh, how I would love to see those wafer thin women try to get the ball past the six yard line and then collapse due to exhaustion! But I digress from the issue. India’s favourite team England has been grouped with USA, Algeria and Slovenia, which is arguably the easiest group they could have got (except if they were with France). Of course, most people who support England only do so because of the smoking hot WAGs of the footballers. But where does that leave us? India’s FIFA page mentions us as the runners-up in the Asian Nations Cup (1964) and fourth place in the Olympics (1956). Don’t they know that we’ve won the Nehru cup twice? We’ve beaten the likes of Syria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (and most other war-torn or flood-affected states). We are at a respectable 135 in the FIFA ranking, ahead of Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Surinam and Chad (yes, it’s a country). We still have to conquer Grenada, Botswana, Malawi and the likes, but the day isn’t far when we shall hear Martin Tyler saying Renedy Singh and Bhutia in an accent most can barely understand.

For that to happen, our training regime has to change. I propose the following:
First, let the headquarters of the AIFF shift to Mumbai. Delhi’s streets are too wide for comfort. Football is learnt in gullies (like cricket) wherein you have to dodge the opponent and (the oncoming vehicles) to score. Let the players out on the streets of Mumbai as a part of the training programme.

The team must be required to walk on the Dadar station foot over bridge while avoiding collisions with anybody, especially the ‘ladies log’. This part of the training programme will be engaged during the mornings and evenings.

Team (Football) India will have to catch the trains arriving on platform six (or whichever is the last), starting from platform one at Thane, Dadar and Borivli.

To gauge their strength and presence of mind, they will have to board a Virar fast train during the evenings and get down at Borivli in one piece.

To inculcate a spirit of multitasking, players will be required to listen to iPods (Chinese, of course) while on their way to the AIFF office, while simultaneously messaging someone on the phone and crossing the road with luggage in onez hand at a red signal, like most other Mumbaikars.

The training programme also increases patience and perseverance skills during the train journey when the neighbour plays Himesh Reshammiya’s ‘Tandoori Nights’ at full volume and there is a huge group of bhakts bellowing out bhajans, with supporting instruments and backing vocals in twin harmonies.

Balance and footwork is of utmost importance to football and Mumbai teaches you just that. Bhutia and Co should travel in trains on the footboards like these people, for the half the journey. For the other half, they have to avoid being called b******d and m*******d by the fellow commuters by not stepping on their feet.

The relaxation sessions will consist of full body massages in a Virar fast and all BEST buses during peak hours. The players can also shout their hearts out in the TMT (Thane Municipal Transport) buses to release the anger and frustration, at the risk of the bus breaking down immediately and, thereby, bankrupting the TMT of its remaining 20-odd buses for a population of 1.26 million.

When Bhutia and Co. follow this training regimen, foreign coach or not, we will surely qualify for the World Cup. Benin, Togo, Angola and all you other miniature Rajasthans, here we come!

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