Tag: Sports

Diego Maradona (1960 – 2020)

Photo by Jack Hunter on Unsplash

I heard the news of Diego Maradona passing away late last night (India time). He was only 60.

Growing up in India in the 1980s, my earliest memory of international football is watching the 1986 World Cup on Mexico. And who can forget the ‘goal of the century’ that Diego Maradona scored against England in the Quarter-finals of that tournament. He went on to score two more goals against Belgium in the Semi-finals and assisted the match-winning goal against Germany in the finals.

He could not match those feats again in the 1990 World Cup, but Argentina did manage to reach the finals, losing to Germany by a solitary goal. And he played two matches in the 1994 World Cup in the USA before being sent home after a failed drugs test.

At that time, in India, it was not very easy to follow club matches. So it was only much later that I read about Maradona’s exploits with Napoli in the Italian League. It is an astonishing story. He joined a relatively ‘unsexy’ club that had never previously won the Italian League and led it to a stupendous run of results – winning the League in 1986-87 and 1989-90 and finishing Runners-Up in 1987-88 and 1988-89. Napoli also won the Italian Cup and the UEFA Cup during this period.

It is fair to say, I guess, that this story of Maradona’s genius was not as well knows as his World Cup exploits. Here are some articles that try to convey what Maradona meant to the city of Naples:

His time at Naples was also the theme of a documentary by Asif Kapadia, simply called ‘Diego Maradona‘.

There is no doubt that for people of my generation, he was the best football player ever.

As I woke up this morning, still processing the news that he is no longer with us, I saw that the skies were grey and a steady rain was falling. It was as if the heavens themselves were shedding tears. As many have commented, there will never be another like Diego Maradona again. Rest in Peace, Legend.

Great to have live sports back

an empty sports stadium

I don’t think anyone will dispute the fact that the months of the enforced ‘lockdown’ due to the pandemic have been quite trying in many ways. Yes, it is nice that many of us have got more time to spend at home with family, but I must admit that the past few weeks have started to tax. The inability to go out for a relaxed time with friends and family or even popping down to the local restaurant for a quick meal has led to a feeling of frustration or ‘cabin fever’. After all, there is only so much of music that one can listen to or television to watch.

It is in these conditions that ‘live sports’ on television has come as a whiff of fresh air. Starting with the German Bundesliga, and moving on to the English Premier League, FA Cup and now, international cricket, these events have once again given me something to look forward to outside of work. Yes, it is strange to see the games being played in empty stadiums with none of the spectator noise. I can only imagine how strange it must feel to the players themselves. But I, as a humble spectator, am not complaining!

It also helps that the football club that I follow – Arsenal – have been doing well lately, They just defeated Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to their 21st FA Cup Finals. A few days before that, they had defeated the League Champions. The general sense is that the vision of their relatively new managed, Mikel Arteta, is beginning to take shape on the field.

In the cricket, West Indies have been going a good account of themselves so far in their test series away at England. It’s not easy to play well away from home in test cricket and the fact that this team is putting their head down and playing with discipline is great news for their fans (of whom there are many around the world).

Of course, a big miss in the sporting calendar this year has been Wimbledon. Yes, the US Open is scheduled to be played later this year, followed by the French Open. But I believe that there are still major question marks about both of these tournaments.

In other sports, Formula 1 is also back. But I am no longer following this sport. No disrespect to Lewis Hamilton, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the time.

What about you – are you following any of the live sports? Please let me know in the comments.

On This Day, 35 years Ago

Photo by Shep McAllister on Unsplash

It was 35 years ago to this day that a young, blond, blue-eyed boy from Germany won Wimbledon for the first time. I remember following the match live over the radio and television, watching the moment Boris Becker clinched the match. It was the first big tennis match that I can still recollect following. And it sparked my interest in tennis.

Wimbledon goes hand in hand with the monsoon season here in India. Growing up in Mumbai, where the rains are quite heavy meant that outdoors time during these months was fairly limited. So I (and my family) used to look forward to Wimbledon as a source of entertainment for two weeks during this time.

It also helped that the time-zone differences between the UK and India meant that matches would start in the afternoon and go on till around bed-time. Back in the 1980s, my recollection is that only the key matches (semi-finals and finals) would be shown live on Indian television, so we had to follow updates of earlier rounds through the daily newspaper.

This changes in the early 1990s when satellite television hit India and changed our lives. Suddenly, thanks to 24 hour sports channels, we could watch the full two weeks of Wimbledon, and other Tennis Slams. And now, we have streaming video and other modes of following matches in real-time.

Thank you Boris, for kindling the love of tennis in me!