Waking a sleeping giant
Indian football has been in the doldrums for many years, but now, with FIFA’s help, it is time for this Asian giant to begin to explore its potential. There are still many infrastructural problems, but Indian officials are looking to the future with a new sense of confidence.
The face of the Indian football is young and female. Mayanti Langer may only be 23, but she is already a familiar sight for those who tune in to Zee Sports to watch the weekend’s big game. Today, Langer is sweeping gracefully through the Zee Sports studios on the outskirts of New Delhi.
When asked about how she got her job, Langer jokes that it was an “accident” because she was only visiting Zee Sports and was not looking for work. She does admit, however, that she fell in love with football when she was a child in New York, where she spent several years fascinated by the game that American girls call “soccer”. Although her passion waned slightly when she eventually moved back to India, Langer smiles when she says that when she was offered the job two years ago, her first reaction was, “Oh dear, Indian football? I didn’t even know that that existed!”
That is quite a common reaction for people in a country where cricket is the national sport and where football takes a back seat. India are generally to be found around 150 – 160 mark in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, but it is high time that this sleeping giant woke up so that this country of over a billion people can finally explore its true potential.