In 2012, when India got here again with six medals from London, doubling our earlier report, the nation was proud. In the subsequent version at Rio in 2016, our emotions returned to despair, as India received simply two medals. As our largest contingent ever of 120 athletes compete on this world stage, India’s expectations are excessive.
Many Indian athletes at present are ranked on the prime of their respective disciplines. Full credit score to their dedication, exhausting work and expertise. Credit additionally goes to sports activities administrations which have taken a number of steps to help them, together with organising sturdy infrastructure — from discovering potential champions to giving them the appropriate coaching and help. Multiple personal organisations have additionally contributed with programmes and sponsorships to help our athletes.
Indian athletics by no means had an organised military of followers. Football golf equipment in India, particularly East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in Kolkata, have a historical past of organised fan bases. Supporters filling up stadiums, cheering gamers on, celebrating with gusto, stay dedicated to their groups regardless of ups and downs. Indian cricket’s ‘Bharat Army’ is 1.4 million-strong, many members based mostly exterior the nation. This fan base ensures that lots of of followers will probably be current at any Team India cricket occasion wherever throughout the globe.
Starting July 23, India’s Olympics workforce needs the help of 1.3 billion Indians — a set of advocates who will help the athletes, cheer them regardless of whether or not they’re bringing the medals residence or failing regardless of their finest efforts. We needn’t only one, however a number of organised fan golf equipment for Indian athletics.
The OIympics will probably be over on August 8. The subsequent few weeks will probably be about celebrating the champions who come again with glory. All athletes will return to their grind of coaching, conditioning and extra coaching. Unlike cricket or soccer that has a calendar of occasions throughout the yr, for lots of our athletes, it will likely be a protracted wait until the subsequent huge occasions — the 2022 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, and the Sydney Olympics in 2024. Our athletes want the fan base to be with all of them all through, and never simply throughout the huge sporting occasions.
Fans are usually not simply vital for the athletes, but additionally for holding up the mirror to your complete sporting ecosystem. In April 2021, when 12 of the richest and most profitable soccer golf equipment in Europe determined to interrupt away and kind European Super League (ESL), an enormous pushback got here from the followers. ESL collapsed inside per week even earlier than it started, as a result of followers of respective golf equipment.
Fans of the Indian OIympics contingent may be the collective conscience that holds organisations accountable, and make sure that they continue to be true to the spirit and beliefs of sport. Let’s all want that the India flies in Tokyo, with we, the 1.3 billion, the wind beneath their wings.
The author is trustee, Mobile Premier League (MPL) Sports Foundation, the principal accomplice of the Indian Olympics contingent to Tokyo