U-17 World Cup and the Loneliness of Indian Football

POV

U-17 World Cup and the Loneliness of Indian Football

Illustration: Sushant Ahire / Arré

W

e are gathered in a corner of a ground in South Delhi’s Siri Fort, as we usually are on weekend mornings. It is a bunch of misfits or people past-their-time for the sport they are all dressed up to play – football. These are men with paunches and receding white hairlines: lives that begin and end behind the steering wheel of a car. They leave the field with bruised ankles and the growing sense that the day of hanging their boots is fast approaching. But try dampening their will to give up the extra hours they could sleep on their days off.

This little time here, before we say goodbye and return to a world where we are all still strangers, is the time we discuss the Neymars and Pogbas of the world: An open, free-for-all conversation about European football and the second-hand football clubs we pretend to support. It is a bit strange to invest in something that occurs thousands of miles away. Constant with this gulf between the event and its audience is the bitterness that is always missing — a bitterness that can only really emerge for something you have an actual stake in. Something local, something you help build in some way.

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