Did you know football is nearly 3000 years old? It is the world’s most popular sport with 250 million players worldwide!
Football, or Soccer in the US, is a team sport played by two teams with 11 players each. The objective is to kick the ball into the other team’s goalpost. Teams are split up into defenders, midfielders and forwards. In every team, there is only one goalkeeper.
Modern football was invented in 1863 by the Football Association in England. Traces of football were found in China during the second and third centuries, where the game was called Tsu’ Chu; it consisted of a leather ball that was only 30-40cm in width.
So why is football so popular?
Football is the world’s most popular sport. Nearly, 250 million people play football in over 200 countries. It is especially popular in South America, Europe and Africa. There has been growing influence in places like North America and Asia. In India, football is increasingly becoming popular. The most famous competition, the “Indian Super League”, has 11 teams and is the fifth biggest football league in terms of popularity with over 130 million dedicated fans.
Easy to understand
Football is popular because of its ability to bring many people together. Almost anyone can play football; it does not have an age group at all; it is also very simple to play, which is why even kids love playing. Anyone can understand the game by watching it from a distance. Many people are attracted to football because of the crazy skills that one can do while dribbling the ball.
Unlike many team sports, one person from the team can single-handedly turn the match around, which is why solo training is also very important.
Almost anyone can afford to play football, as all you need is a ball and some space to kick it around; you don’t need a big field and goalposts to play.
Football for me Pre-pandemic days
Before the pandemic started, my team was invited to play a tournament in Haryana. We spent nearly a week in a residential football academy, and I really had a blast. Not only did we win the U-11 category, but I scored the winning goal. In the finals, the score remained 0-0, so it came to penalties.
It was all even until I was up, the entire championship was on the line and there was a lot of pressure on me. Luckily, I scored, and my team won; it was a feeling I cannot describe. Many people were watching, and some of us had our parents travel all the way to see the finals. The ones who couldn’t make it watched it through a live stream on Facebook.
What do you get from playing Football?
Football boosts your mental and physical health. ‘The Conversation’ says their studies show that those who play this sport feel more relaxed after a game. They also say the ability to express your feelings on the pitch gave them the confidence to talk to others. Because football is a team game, it also gives you experience with others; it develops your team skills as it requires communication and coordination.
My Favorite Footballers
My favourite team by far is Bayern Munich from the Bundesliga, Germany’s first division league and one of the biggest in the world. While I admire all the players, I am a huge fan of Manuel Neuer. Neur is the goalkeeper and the captain of both Bayern and Germany’s National teams. My favourite player is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo the record-breaking goal-scoring machine. I love his play style and his mentality.
Hoping Indian Football will make it to FIFA World Cup
Sadly, India’s national team has never qualified for the World Cup. What could be different this time? Everything. The FIFA World Cup qualification method has changed and now allows eight teams from Asia. This has raised hopes for many Indian fans as we all believe that India can put in the effort and be one of the top eight countries from Asia to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
How football is used as a tool for social improvement
In India, several organizations aim to spread joy and
to educate kids, mainly underprivileged boys and girls.
Indian Youth Soccer Association (IYSA)
The Indian Youth Soccer Association (IYSA) aims to develop football skills to improve the physical health of kids from economically weaker backgrounds. They were established in the year 2000 and almost immediately started mini-leagues to spread the influence of football.
In 2010, the IYSA launched a football academy in New Delhi, called the Josh Academy with authorization from the government. Their target was mainly government schoolboys. They started with just 40 kids who trained bare feet from the nearby slum. However, they soon got a lot of support and were able to fund kits, boots, equipment, scholarships, nutrition, coach salaries and grounds-men fees. IYSA then made teams for U15, U16 and U18 AIFF (All India Football Federation) national league.
They also did very well in these tournaments and won the Delhi Youth League multiple times in 2014, 2015 and 2018. The IYSA trained over 1000 players aged 7-19 and gave them the same opportunities and training as private school students were given, at one benefit, it was free of cost.
Shreeja India aims to educate many rural girls using a balance between intensive football training and their own out-of-school education program. They use football to improve their girls’ physical strength along with their out-of-school education program that goes far beyond the normal syllabus. Girls are taught using collaborative and activity-based learning and many are encouraged to take extra-curricular activities. Their aim is to bridge the gap between rural and urban education. The Shreeja India Academy contains over 1000 books in their library to provide the best education possible to their girls.
OSCAR Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating young children using football. OSCAR’s education program hopes to deliver all aspects of development for children. They inform parents, who are usually uneducated, on how important education really is. Their football program is provided to all who attend school regularly, making sure children get the perfect balance between them.
Football in India is always put under the shadow by Cricket. India’s team hasn’t been very successful and the top leagues such as the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League aren’t very professional compared to the Bundesliga, English Premier League and La Liga. Despite this, an effort has been made to spread the influence of football. Nita Ambani, the wife of the richest man in India, sponsors the ISL, and she continues to do her best to encourage children to play football. As a football fan, I really appreciate her efforts and wish more people could do the same; after all who knows, maybe India will be home to the best footballers in some time. I also like how various organizations are trying to bring about a positive social change in India through football. This is only the start of football in India; the best is yet to come.
Contributor: Aarush Mohan
About our Writing Program Student
A teenager with a love for football and gaming, Aarush Mohan is a budding pianist and also plays the violin. He is currently teaching piano to an 8-year-old in his neighbourhood. This 8th Grader from Greenwood High International School, Bangalore has lived in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan.