On June 2, 2018, Sunil Chettri sent out a plea to all Indians to come and support the Indian team. In our opinion, it is a rather shameful state of affairs for us, that we, as a nation, are more keen on abusing or ridiculing poor performances rather than actually doing anything to support or encourage our fellow countrymen. These footballers are our countrymen. The games they play against other nations is a service they are rendering to the nation. But see how the lack of support from us has pushed the Indian Captain to beg us to support.
Football is a "less popular sport" in India. At least, when it comes to the National football team. Although, a research report states that there are about 41% Indians who follow football. But that probably does not include domestic or national Indian teams. A lot of Indians are enamored by the foreign clubs, pouring their money into their merchandises like football club jerseys and mementos. That is a crucial factory to keep the quality up. Money.
What Indian football lacks is money: money from sponsors, money from audience, and money from the Govt., in no particular order. Without the support from these three, the sport will never rise from the doldrums in India. Even cricket was never this big before the money started pouring in. Check out this article on Livement to know the real tipping point for cricket. It shares the story of how cricket grew so much in India as a business. We need this to happen for other sports too.
Although Chhetri just addresses the people of India to come and support, we at India Sports Review, also feel that the govt. and the media industry have key roles in promoting this sport. We need better infrastructures so that young talent is groomed from the grassroots. National football should be aired and promoted across channels. Media must talk about achievements. Any wins that the Indian team achieve must be highlighted well enough for all Indians to know that there are people striving to do well on our behalf.
Once we have the coverage from the media, there will be sponsors ready to support the teams. It is a self fulfilling prophecy in a way. If we can get the infrastructure and media on the right track, we will see this sport grow too.
From us, the audience and fellow country men, right now, the team needs our encouragement. Any encouragement will motivate the team to do even better. So, please hear the plea from our captain, spare some time and support him. Even if you can't support them with your physical presence, send him a positive shout on twitter or any social media platform. I am sure our positive responses will still give them enough courage to brave the odds and bring further glories to our country.
Edit: A couple of days after Captain Chhetri's appeal, Indian fans responded by turning up in the India vs Kenya match in the Intercontinental cup. India beat Kenya 3-0, 2 goals of which were scored by the Indian skipper. The emotional appeal to by the captain did wonders and the stadium looked pretty much fully occupied.
Way to go India!