Okay, let’s begin by saying… we grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar. Whenever we watch cricket, we will tell you with pride (and nostalgia), “We lived in the time of the great Sachin Tendulkar.” So live with it.
Just like our parents boasted of Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Holding, Sobers… we will fill you with stories about Tendulkar. And yes, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Sehwag… and all those greats who retired before you started watching cricket.
It’s perhaps too early to say if you will ever play the sport. We hope you do play it someday, in fact any sport at all. Just for the ability of unleashing your energy on a game, for harnessing your strengths, to accept your weaknesses. Playing a sport will teach you about winning. It will teach you to accept defeat. It will push you to work harder. Most importantly, it will teach you to compete not just with your competitor, but with yourself first. Playing a sport teaches you resilience, fortitude and builds strength… less physical, more mental. You will know what it means to follow a discipline. You will understand the true meaning of love and respect. Only he lasts who loves his sport and respects it.
It is not about the talent which you naturally have. It is more about the talent that you can acquire. You will have to be humble, because it is the one thing that will see you through your highs and lows. It will push you to work harder. To challenge yourself every time you fall. Being a sportsman, you will have to reinvent yourself, because somewhere along the way there will be hurdles. There will be someone who will discover your deepest weaknesses and beat you. As you grow up, you will discover the voices in your head. One voice will tell you about those who watch you play, those you compete against, those you play with. Another, a little quiet voice will tell you about yourself. It will tell you what to do. If you are a sportsman, you will learn to listen to that faint voice… always.
Your father is keen you pick a team sport. Because of all of the above, there is a lot that you can learn from being a part of a team. It builds character, he says, as I write this. Being a part of a team teaches you to look out for everyone. It teaches you to build trust. It teaches you to keep someone’s trust. As part of a team you learn to share responsibility. Like when you win, you learn to rejoice together, it also lets you share the grief and hurt of losing a game. A team works as a great motivator. While you watch another’s back, you learn to stand by, a team-mate, colleague and friend. A team will teach you to earn your place. It will teach you how to keep it. It is never about personal records. It is about that which you have given back to the game.
As we write this, I realise we are silently painting our tribute to the one cricketer we grew up watching. We hope you find your sporting icons. But choose them well. In today’s quick fix formats of league matches, publicity, endorsements and big money, there is a lot that you will see. There will also be a lot more that you won’t see; for instance, the struggle of an athlete from a disadvantaged family. He won’t have the money to train or buy his next training shoes, but he will be driven by his talent and passion for the sport. He will be motivated by the hope of making his country proud, of beating the odds, and emerging a winner. Chances are that you will rarely hear about these sportsmen… but that doesn’t make them any less legendary. We will, as parents try and tell you those stories too.
Your uncle was on his way to becoming a professional sportsman, until the road was cut short by the accident. When we look at him, somewhere we realise that perhaps it is these sportsman-like qualities that have helped him get back on his feet. The lessons go way beyond the field. They will stay with you forever. And we can see that already.
We hope you enjoy a sport and play some too. But then, did I tell you we not just had Sachin… we also had Federer, Messi, Tiger, Phelps, Bolt, Schumacher… sigh… !
This is how Baba and I see sports. This is what we have learnt from sports. He played cricket. And I played all of them (but I was never good enough)… but I tried. And that is what matters at the end of the day. This is part of our childhood, and we hope you have the same too.
Don’t worry… you will have your own heroes too! And no, there is no pressure to become one. We will be happy if you just go out there and have some fun. Because at the end of the day, that is what sports is all about.
The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.