December 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Football needs toning up
IT is time the All-India Football Federation does a rethink on its march to tone up the game in the country. Some of the steps taken during the year has produced tangible results in terms of a better projection of the country in the Asian market. There was first the victory in the LG Cup final in Vietnam, the first title of such a nature in 32 years.
Army, Sachin pitch in for peace
The scope for dope in sports
needs toning up
IT is time the All-India Football Federation does a rethink on its march to tone up the game in the country. Some of the steps taken during the year has produced tangible results in terms of a better projection of the country in the Asian market. There was first the victory in the LG Cup final in Vietnam, the first title of such a nature in 32 years. This was followed by entry into the quarter-finals of both the subjunior and junior Asian championships. The Asian Games outing may not have been fruitful but it was still better than in the earlier ones in the last two decades. Much of the credit for the national team’s improved showing could be attributed to the AIFF’s English coach, Stephen Constantine. The face of Indian football is certainly changing insofar as the continent is concerned.
But what about the domestic scene? A few months ago Mr Priyaranjan Dasmunshi talked about the steps being taken to give a game a completely professional garb at the domestic level, particularly in the National Football League. The participating teams have certainly contributed their bit and any number of foreigners have been recruited to add "bite" to the teams. But a look at the results so far in the ongoing NFL appears to give a rather strange foreign picture with the creditline being hogged by football players imported from Nigeria and Ghana and Brazil with a player from Sri Lanka making up for variation. The reports tend to give the impression that India is hosting an African football league, so heavily is the import of specialist talent from that continent. Nothing wrong with it since all these players are contributing to enrich the Indian football scene.
It would, however, look and sound even better if some of the goalscorers and star material in the league matches were Indians. Only then would the National League be of some value. Having foreign players joining hands with the domestic talent to make for a good mixture is one thing but in the present context the NFL appears to be a project to advertise paid gladiators from outside of the country. Generally the only thing Indian in the National League is the name of the clubs.
This is not to criticise the import of
foreign talent but to lament the total domination of these players in
the NFL. The idea of getting players from outside was to strengthen the
quality of the competition with both the Indian and imported stars all
joining hands to make for a classy league which would help promote
interest in the game. That in turn would encourage younger players to
take to football in a serious fashion. The younger generation needs
heroes, if preferably of Indian origin, to emulate and excel.
Army, Sachin pitch in for peace
THE Kashmir valley, fed up with noises of terrorists bullets in these days echoing with a cricket message from India’s sports star Sachin Tendulkar. The ‘cricket’ maestro’ emotionally pitched in with the Indian Army for a unique cricket series in Kashmir named "Ujala." It literally means "Light". The younger generation of Kashmiri cricket lovers is excited and joyful at receiving Tendulkar’s cricket message and cricket gifts. There is a new determination among them today to make their mark on the world pitch with the bat and ball.
The cricket series in the valley for which Tendulkar sent his special message and gifts of inspiration was itself very unusual in form and content. Mooted and encouraged by the Indian Army, the Ujala series of cricket matches proved a big hit. It was designed to turn the sight of the new generation of the Kashmiri youth towards a peaceful journey to the national mainstream, away from the mental and environmental pollution caused by the scourge of terrorism.
The Army men, who risk their lives every moment to defend the sovereignty and integrity of India, mooted the idea, as a healthy "peace offensive" in the valley.
"Lead us from darkness to light, from lies to truth, from death to life," is the message.
As many as 24 teams of young cricketers from different schools and colleges participated in the bonanza. The teams represented all parts of the valley, including Uri, Srinagar, Avantipur, Kupwara, Badgam and Baramulla. The semifinals were played on December 9 in which the team from Kupwara defeated Baramulla and Badgam defeated Lolab. The victors played the final on December 12 at Government Boys Degree College Baramulla where Mr Muzaffar Hussein Beg, Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir was the chief guest. He had a word of praise for the winners and the new generation of cricketers. He also gave away gifts sent by Sachin Tendulkar.
According to sources, such a series had never been witnessed in the valley before. The Ujala seems to be a harbinger of peace.
In his message, Tendulkar expressed the hope that the cricket tournament would act as harbinger for sports in the valley.
The batting maestro sent autographed cricket bats and T-shirts for the Kashmiri cricketers.
SO near yet so far away. This is the story of Jeev Milkha Singh. After five rounds of consistent play, he was on the high road to qualifying for the prestigious US PGA. But sadly he muffed his last round and had to stay contented with ‘consolation’ entry into all US tournaments except the US PGA. Such is a life of professional golfer.
Jeev is one of the noblest souls of golfing community. Call it hard luck or steel-less nerves, he has to sharpen his concluding rounds. Just as Indians were asked to play their second innings as first, 30-year-old Jeev will have to play his concluding rounds as first two rounds. When he approaches final rounds, he begins to think too intensely and this anxiety stands between him and his returning better cards. He will have to try his luck next year. May be, playing in US tournaments will help him develop steadier nerves than he possesses thus far.
Whether Jeev has qualified or not, Indian golf is in the mould of upswing. Jyoti Randhawa is the best in Asian circuit. His performance has been immensely praiseworthy this year because he was out of pro golf for six months as he was involved in a road accident. It has been a great going for him. He is now optimistic that he will go from strength to strength after achieving the Order of the Merit title.
Like Jeev, Arjun Singh also faltered on the last round of Volvo Master but he finished second to Jyoti. He is another player who plays consistently in all conditions. There are several others who are displaying their potential and talent and Indian golfing scene is very bright, thanks to Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI) and Tiger Marketing.
The scene of amateur golf does not portray a bright picture. Women, in particular, have to strengthen their muscles to hit a long ball. Irina Brar, the country’s best, is out of golf for 2-3 months because of unforeseen back injury. She has to take a leaf out of Jyoti’s book to the return to the course with the added verve and physical fitness.
On the Indian pro circuit, there is no stopping Mukesh Kumar. He continues to be in dazzling form and he has pushed more experienced stars, like, Vijay Kumar, behind. Soon, there will be Indian Open in which his display will be gauged. If he does not get overawed by the occasion, it will be the sign of his maturity. In the meantime, Vijay Kumar has two cuts in foreign tournaments but he has got lift his performance.
Noida Golf Club has stolen a march over
other clubs in organising the Open without major sponsor. The organisers
were candid in saying that they could not get any sponsor but they
thought it would be in the fitness of things to stage the competition.
It is a great feeling to run the competition independently. The NOIDA
club captain D.K. Arya said the course was challenging and "all
members are appreciative of staging the Open without any sponsor. His
views were supported by the secretary, Mr K.K.K. Singh.
The scope for dope in sports
THE IOC defines drug use or doping as ‘administration or use by a competitive athlete of any substance foreign to the body, or any physiological substance taken in abnormal quantity, or taken by an abnormal route of entry into the body, with the sole intention of increasing in an artificial and unfair manner his/her performance in competition’. However, even vitamins could be considered as drugs when they are used in excess of normal needs, though athletes have a high requirement of water-solubl vitamins, as well as of foods.
Caffeine: Caffeine is supposed to confer endurance, but caffeine also stimulates the kidneys which can lead to dehydration and fatigue. Caffeine is found in tea, coffee and cocoa and diet pills and cold medicine. One cup of brewed coffee contains 100 to 150 mg caffeine, while instant coffee contains 80-100 mg. When a person drinks a cup of coffee, the effect begins within 15-20 minutes. The endurance-enhancing effects of caffeine has been shown with 250 mg taken one hour prior to the exercise, with an additional dose of 250 gm in divided doses prior to the exercise and later at 15- minute intervals during exercise. An amount greater than 12 microgrammes/milli-litre is considered doping. To reach this level, you would have to consume about six to eight cups of coffee in one sitting and be tested within two to three hours.
Cocaine: Most observers have reported athletic deterioration among cocaine users. The seductive nature of the drug, coupled with its potent behavioural reinforcing action, make cocaine a dangerously addictive substance.
Sympatho-mimetic amines: Over-the-counter medicines like cough, cold and sinus medications contain chemicals like ephedrine, pseudoephidrine and phenyl-propano-alamine. These medicines are abused by competing athletes for their stimulating effect. Athletes who use these drugs innocently before a competition can be found testing positive and held guilty of a doping violation. As little as one dose of a sympatho-mimetic amine can get an athlete disqualified.
Androgenic anabolic steroids: These are esters or derivates of testosterone. There are about 25 of them. These are oil-based and absorbed into the body’s fat deposits, Nandrolone [deca-durabolin] can take 12 months to clear the body’s system. The esters of testosterone are active both orally and by injection. Medically, nandrolon is used as an adjunct in the treatment of aplastic anaemia [types of anaemia resulting from the failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells]. It is available as a solution for injection on prescription only. The side-effects are acne, oedema [accumulation of fluid in the tissues] due to sodium retention, masculinisation in women and high concentration in the blood plasma.
Many anabolic steroids illicit, being manufactured in ‘underground’ laboratories. The only anabolic steroids listed in the1998 British National Forumulary are nandrolone [Deca- Durabolini] and stanozolol (Stromba]. In the 1988 Olympics, Ben Johnson, the Canadian sprinter was stripped of his medals for testing positive for stanozolol.
In the build-up to the competitive phase of training, athletes may use the natural hormone erythropoetin [EPO] to boost the number of circulating red blood cells, which also improves endurance. EPO may be fatal if not given under medical supervision. Since it is difficult to detect in the body because it disappears quickly — the only way to detect it is to carry out frequent snap tests on the same athlete. One problem is that the blood must be tested within eight hours of being taken, which means that the laboratory has to be located near the stadium.
Another forbidden practice for athletes is blood-doping, which involves the transfusion of the athletes’ own blood, previously withdrawn and stored. It gives the athlete an overnight improvement in oxygen-carrying capacity. Blood doping can be detected by testing.
Drug testing of athletes is done at 25 accredited laboratories. Urine samples may undergo biochemical changes if they are not refrigerated or frozen till they reach the lab. Under ‘in competition’ rules, the first four finishers in an event, plus one competitor chosen at random, are automatically tested.
It is, however practically impossible to detect human growth hormone (HGH) when used as an ergogenic aid. HGH is naturally produced in the body. It stimulates muscle growth, fat metabolism, increases red blod-cell mass and heart functions and has various effects on carbohydrate metabolism.
In the future, athletes could also resort to genetic manipulation, using modified viruses to insert genes into their DNA. This method has been used to treat diseases in humans. This technique, too, would be impossible to detect.
Drugs are particularly dangerous for athletes because they artificially raise the body’s threshold for withstanding stress. They also seem to cause mental disorders while being consumed.
Perhaps athletes are turning to drugs because the pep talk by their coaches no longer provides them the motivation it once used to.
Batsmen to blame
THE crushing 10-wicket defeat of India against New Zealand at Wellington in the first Test in less than three days has really put a question mark on the ability of our star batsmen. In recent times, we blamed our bowlers for defeats but this time it was the batting line-up which miserably failed on fast pitches. Scores of 161 and 121, respectively, are self explanatory of their performance on foreign soils. Motivation, patience and hard work is needed if the team wants to make a mark in the World Cup.
NARESH POPLI, Chandigarh
It was nice to see Punjab emerging as champions in the North Zone limited overs Ranji Trophy tournament. They won all their matches comfortably. The defection of Sharandeep Singh to Delhi and Vikram Rathore to Himachal Pradesh besides Harbhajan Singh's absence could not make any difference. Punjab even won or took the lead in all the matches in the knock-out stage. The selectors should watch the performance of Pankaj Dharmani. He made 121 against Assam, 87 against Orissa and was instrumental in saving Punjab from conceding a first innings lead and defeat. If statistics of the past few years of Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Deodar Trophy are taken into account he will rank among the first 10 leading batsmen (some of whom are in the national side also). He, along with Reetinder Singh Sodhi, should be taken in the national side for the one-day series.
PRITPAL SINGH, Patiala
Steeve Waugh's ouster from the Australian World Cup squad is a matter of concern. Despite his good batting and fine captaincy, he was robbed of his place in in the squad. He has been defying his age and has regained his form too. Earlier, Mark Waugh was thrown out from the team. Although Australia's cricket can be ranked No. 1 under Ponting, yet experience also counts.
Y.L. CHOPRA, Bathinda