Thursday, November 16, 2006


Every Sunday, a motley crowd gathers at the Shri Ram School campus in Aravali, Gurgaon, to encourage their sons to dribble, head and kick. And, most of all, to win. It is, after all, a competitive world that's getting more competitive by the day, isn't it?

At this school football league match being played between children of class 1 (average age: 7.5 years), it is evident that the parents on the sidelines have a larger stake than the footballers themselves.

While it's great fun to watch every one of the four-feet-something boys fight it out, what's even funnier is their forty-fast-approaching fathers yelling themselves hoarse from the sidelines. Strangely, things always seem easier from the sidelines. And instead of revelling in the sheer joy of watching the whole team (goalkeeper included) crowding around the ball, forgetting carefully-tutored positions and leaving defences wide open, here's a bunch of dads (mostly) trying to be coaches. Or perhaps trying yet again to get their sons to be what they couldn't.

It's what a student of Shakespeare would call tragicomedy.

While the matches themselves are played in all seriousness, what's worth staying on for is the post-match analysis by the school's football coach - the only one really qualified to comment on the match. There was something he said at last Sunday's match that stuck - and it was addressed to the parents: "Let the game be the teacher".

Everyone heard him. But I'm not sure how many listened.

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