"Why is India such a non-entity in international football? Because, whether or not we acknowledge our inadequacies, the predominant mindset of this nation almost ensures that we are unlikely to be successful at [an] elite professional level in any sport that demands strenuous physical activity--this contention being corroborated by the fact that among the top five medal winners in the Beijing Olympics, there is not a single cricket-playing country."
--Columnist Siddhartha Mishra, writing in the June 6 edition of The New Sunday Express.
(Context: The 2010 FIFA World Cup is two days away. Mr. Mishra--who also argued that India is a non-factor in the soccer world due to underfunded local programs, overfed bureaucrats of the All India Football Federation, low wages for referees and players resulting in unspecified corruption, and lack of vision in creating a national program--is understandably downtrodden (as a patriot and a football fan in India) but hardly fair: If India is looking for youth with the physical stamina to endure a simple ninety-minute football match, come on down to hot, humid Orissa and check out the kids running around chasing balls in the dirt in my neighbourhood. Also, what kind of logic is the Beijing Olympic reference? Trinidad & Tobago were a no-show in Beijing. They play cricket with the formidable West Indies federation. And we saw wee T&T at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.)