Make MMWPG great as a footballing side

Since 2018, Iceland has stood out as a catcall for Indian football fans. With a population of 3.82 lakh – about the population of Latur in Maharashtra in 2011 – its national football team features regularly in the highly competitive stratosphere of European tournaments. In the 2018 World Cup, it reached the group stage, drawing with Argentina in their opening match. India, with its great aspirations, is crap in football. This embarrassing matter, especially for a country that takes great pride in being a nation of international football fanboys, is an elephant in the football field. The ‘problem’ is that India doesn’t really want to be a football-playing nation.

But where there is data, there is an explanation, if not intent. Research by former All India Football Federation head of player development Richard Hood has found that this country of over 1.4 bn people has over 65% of its top footballers coming from only five states – Manipur, Mizoram, West Bengal, Punjab and Goa. While India sporadically breaks into ‘debates’ over ‘veg-non-veg nation’, it avoids the more real one over ‘cricket-football’. We’re kings of cricket, as players and spectators, a sport played by a dozen-odd countries. If we want to get ‘global’, football is a better bet. And to do that, it may make better sense to focus on the footballing prowess of these MMWPG states.


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