If you were to shout the word “Sports” in India, the echo you receive back will surely be “Cricket”. That’s how tunnel-visioned us Indians have been about sports in the country. Have you seen the country ever rise in equal if not more anticipation for the Hockey World Cup or Wimbledon or an International Chess Tournament? Sadly, never.
However, this sorry state of affairs is looking at a welcome change, thanks to social media, where the woke folk have begun talking about other sports. And it is this platform, that Indian national football team skipper Sunil Chhetri has taken to, to make a heartfelt appeal.
In a plea that is testament to his humility, Suni Chhetri, who BTW joined the ranks of Ronaldo and Messi by becoming the third-highest active international goalscorer, has appealed to everyone, football fan or not, to come out in support of the team in the Intercontinental Cup 2018.
In a video that is bound to make you emotional, Chhetri asks every sports fan to come watch him and his team play in Mumbai today, in their match against Kenya.
This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen. pic.twitter.com/fcOA3qPH8i
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 2, 2018
“To all of you who are fans of big European clubs…. Sometimes you guys think that the level is not same, so why to waste your time? Agreed, the level is not the same. Not even close. But with our desire and determination, we’ll make sure we make your time worth.”
It is indeed sad that a player of this stature had to literally plead the people of his own country to come out and watch his team play, because the people have eyes only for one sport.
Chhetri’s stint in first match for the Intercontinental Cup 2018 against Chinese Taipei saw him score a hat-trick. This brought his total of goals to a stellar 59, drawing him level with Spain’s David Villa (59), and third only to Christiano Ronaldo (61) and Lionel Messi (64) in the list of highest active international goalscorers!
This humble appeal by such an illustrious sportsman for his game shook everyone, not just football fans, to the core. Many celebrities, across spheres, stood in support of Chhetri and team, and urged people to come out and support them too!
Chhetri’s video, which according to him, was an impromptu decision from the heart, had resounded with people across the country. More voices of support and appeal are joining the fray!
Fellow teammate Gurpreet Singh Sandhu puts forth a very important reason to attend the match!
Hi everyone,I just want to urge everyone to try and witness tomorrow not just because it’s our match but because @chetrisunil11 is reaching a milestone which is very rare in indian football,please cherish and celebrate his 100th cap #ShowUpForIndianFootball #ShowUpForSunilChhetri pic.twitter.com/YjKmakSx5s
— Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (@GurpreetGK) June 3, 2018
Fellow sportsmen too rallied in support of the legend, because that’s what sports does, right? Unite beyond teams and borders!
There were cricketers…
I’m a true football fan and #IsupportIndianFootball!
Come let's support our captain @chetrisunil11 and the team @IndianFootball for the amazing efforts and progress, they truly deserve it!!! Let’s cheer for #Football 🇮🇳⚽️ https://t.co/EpURtFKlQB
— Suresh Raina (@ImRaina) June 3, 2018
Football, a game that connects hearts and makes us united not just as fans but as a nation. #ISupportIndianFootball and along with the nation, lets fill the stadiums with our roars as we back our captain @chetrisunil11 and the team. https://t.co/Othq4LlhIb
— Ishan Kishan (@ishankishan51) June 3, 2018
… and a tennis ace asking for her tickets!
Legend 💫 can I have tickets pls 😀🙌🏽 https://t.co/OysLcazVVc
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 3, 2018
And even a hockey player chimed in!
Touched !! I request all the people out there in Mumbai come out & support this game, My best wishes to you and the entire team I’m sure you guys will bring laurels to our country. Good luck cheers 👍 #BackTheBlues @IndianFootball #respect https://t.co/HIfhUWHoJO
— Devindar Walmiki OLY (@DWalmiki) June 3, 2018
A special commentary from Harsha Bhogle is sure to catch people’s attention!
Well said @chetrisunil11. I am bullish about Indian football and am hoping to see it reach new heights in my lifetime. All you football loving youngsters, become a part of this.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) June 3, 2018
Individual sportsmen aside, even national and international teams and clubs tweeted in support of the skipper!
Mumbai is blue and will remain blue! 💙
Head to the Mumbai Football Arena and #BackTheBlue on the 4th and 7th of June. 🇮🇳
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) June 3, 2018
Indeed the best sport in the world, they agreed!
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) June 3, 2018
Politicians and cops alike decided to show their support!
Now that’s an earnest appeal 👏
I am going to a football ⚽️ game soon. What about you guys? Retweet and spread the word pls https://t.co/Xd02l6xEpa
— KTR (@KTRTRS) June 3, 2018
— Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga (@TajinderBagga) June 2, 2018
— RAHUL SRIVASTAV (@upcoprahul) June 3, 2018
That must say something, right?
We all know how deep that Bollywood and Sports connection goes, right? Several of our favourite actors love the sport, play in their own celeb leagues and definitely did not disappoint when it was time to show their support!
Come on India let show our love to this beautiful sport and to our players who deserve it…if we can watch all the matches from across the world we can make the effort to support our very own team… @chetrisunil11 all the best to u and the entire team… https://t.co/bFyRj28KE7
— Arjun Kapoor (@arjunk26) June 3, 2018
Oh captain oh captain. I have had the good fortune to watch india play live and it’s been and honour please go to stadium and support india https://t.co/mhFrYDJLZU
— Varun Dhawan (@Varun_dvn) June 3, 2018
Come on mumbai! our sportsman need our love support… and dissapointment….on the field! in the stadium! Let’s go! whoever is in mumbai let’s go and cheer for them… #football #indianfootball @chetrisunil11 https://t.co/8YBeIgVEv7
— Aditi Rao Hydari (@aditiraohydari) June 3, 2018
When Passion meets Determination there is no stopping.. Love and support from our side can do wonders.
— rajamouli ss (@ssrajamouli) June 4, 2018
I am with you Sunil. I’m so glad you brought this up. I want India to wake up and know that it has World-Class talent!
More power to you and the team 💪🏻 please let me know how I can see when the next match is and I will be there to see it ♥️ https://t.co/YAZEmgXQXl
— ARMAAN MALIK (@ArmaanMalik22) June 4, 2018
Requesting everyone to go and watch our Indians playing for India 🙏 https://t.co/s3UnZwb7nO
— Guru Randhawa (@GuruOfficial) June 3, 2018
What a powerful message! “One, it’s the best game in the world. Two, we play for our country.” A message alsonto those who religiously follow European clubs but spare no attention to Indian footballers. https://t.co/jHJ3AlABCx
— Neelesh Misra (@neeleshmisra) June 3, 2018
— Mumbai Ki Rani (@mymalishka) June 4, 2018
…to stand-up comedians and spiritual gurus….
So honest and so humble 🖤 https://t.co/OBzVusVP1b
— Sapan Verma (@sapanv) June 3, 2018
I have never seen a sports captain do this. And I think all of us should try and go. Please. https://t.co/kEC4sdwGRF
— Neville Shah (@craziebawa) June 3, 2018
— Sadhguru (@SadhguruJV) June 3, 2018
it seemed like Sunil Chhetri’s plea touched every Indian’s heart!
But one of the most heartwarming appeals came from another sports captain and a friend of Sunil Chhetri, Virat Kohli.
Kohli too shared a video talking about how far the team had come, and how talented and hardworking they are. He requested people to fill up the stadiums and watch the game, contributing to the ‘sporting culture’ that India is trying to build.
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) June 2, 2018
“Have compassion. Think of how much it can contribute to the players and, in turn, to the nation. Because they’re all representing our nation and they’re proud of that.”
Another video appeal came from Sachin Tendulkar, who perfectly put the need for support in a player’s life!
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 3, 2018
“Because getting support from all the well-wishers is the best tonic any athlete can have.”
Well, if the God says it, you gotta do it, right?
For me, the below tweet kind of sums up the bittersweet reality of sports in India….
One champion supports another.
A Gentleman's game is reaching out to the Beautiful game.
One good call for a great cause.
Unfortunate that it has come down this but sincerely hope better days are ahead of our champion national football team. Best of luck @chetrisunil11 & boys. https://t.co/AJqRsOeoFp
— Rahul Mehra (@TheRahulMehra) June 2, 2018
However, nothing can dilute the fact that our boys today need our support and we’ve got to give it to them, more than they can imagine!
So come on, guys, let’s stand not just for Sunil Chhetri and his team, and Indian football, but for sports in India!