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Gill calls for soccer revival

Union sports minister MS Gill,who today described himself as an “accidental plant” in sports ministry,stressed the need to promote inexpensive sports like football while taking an indirect dig at India’s favourite pastime cricket.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata |
January 24, 2009 2:30:29 am

Union sports minister MS Gill,who today described himself as an “accidental plant” in sports ministry,stressed the need to promote inexpensive sports like football while taking an indirect dig at India’s favourite pastime cricket.

“In 1956,we made it to the semi-finals of the Melbourne Olympics. Now,we are in the 140th,150th or nowhere. We must revive the sport and take it to where it was before,” Gill said after inaugurating a swimming pool complex at Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Eastern Centre on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 112th birth anniversary. “Football is the sport of the mass. It’s played by the kids all across the country and Bengal has been the leader of the sport,” he added.

As far as cricket is concerned,he said: “In those days,there were no cricketing gears and the players like Vinoo Mankad,Vijay Hazare,GR Viswanath would face balls at 90 mph with very little protection. There would just be a thin cap and cotton clothes.

“Nowadays there are all sorts of protection — head gear,shoulder gear and things like that. In fact,a batsman is so much covered with protective gears that one might say (Sachin) Tendulkar is playing if I go in the middle to bat. It was tougher those days.”

He also rejected Tiger Pataudi’s demand to make cricket the national game. “National game is something we refer to a sport because of its popularity. Hockey is a spiritual sport in India and is directly related to one’s heart. Let cricket be as it is,” Gill observed.

He also announced a life-long pension scheme for country’s former sportspersons.

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