This is the first of an article series that will strive to cover anything and everything to do with sports in Bangalore.
To begin with, football in Bangalore is an art form, and the players, artists. I’ve heard people say, "It takes a football match in Bangalore to know Classical Indian Football", and it was on Saturday the 8th of November, that I fully understood the statement.
I was returning from the Karnataka State Football Association building after a failed bid to meet the Secretary, and was walking back towards Airport Road. The detour freak that I am, I took another road thinking that would get me further into Airport Road. But then, I found myself in a while walking along Palmgrove Road, Austin Town. It was then that I saw a familiar shape fly high into the air at quite a distance. That must be.. football!
And I reached the soccer ground one minute later. "The TKLB Sports meet" was officially On, and there was indeed a soccer match in full swing. I stood in a corner and was watching the rest of the game from there. Almost all of them there, from the players to the crowd, looked like they were from north-east India. One of them was shouting at his friends (who were playing) in some language I couldn’t comprehend. The commentary was also in a language that wasn’t anything I’d heard before. So, I asked him, "What is this? A tournament?"
"What language is this?"
"What’s the TKLB in TKLB sports meet?"
He said something but I couldn’t understand it. "I am sorry but I didn’t get it.."
"You won’t understand", he smiled and moved on to cheer his friends.
So, I went to the Helpdesk there and asked if I can speak to the organizers. Then, I was redirected to Solem, a student of St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, who was one of the persons organizing the event.
TKLB, I learnt from Solem, stands for Tangkhul Katamnao Long (Bangalore), which literally means "The Students Union of the Tangkhul Tribe (Naga)". It’s part of their annual calendar to meet once a year and organize a sports meet where they can play volleyball, football and other games. This maybe their idea of catching up with friends, but this also goes out to show how they respect and love their games. When I was in college a couple of years back, all we ever did to catch up was going for a drive or a movie. I’d say, cricket or football is definitely a better way of catching up and I’d suggest it to all you guys reading this post.
And now, the actual football part of it. If I say that the game they played was one of the best performances in the game of football that I have seen in person, it would be an understatement. One beautiful cross from right mid-field to the attacking left winger, and I was pinching myself to check if I was imagining things out there. And I found out from Solem that some of them were state/national level players, which was evident from the way they played. The game went down to penalties, and these guys proved their quality with some quality spot-kicks. I could also see the lack of top flight experience with a few of them, like when one person hit the ball way too wide, purely under stress.
To tell you more about the quality of play, there was a shot when the ball was hit so hard that it hit the post and flew out of the ground. A left winger was so good that he took every cross sent that side. A defender executed the tricks from the book to such perfection that I wouldn’t ask a cross question if someone told me that he played for the national side. For a single centre-back, he was too good at tackling, speed and clearing the ball. We sure do have raw talent in our country, a whole lot of it.
And guess what, they are open to external tournaments anytime! So, I guess we’ll be seeing more of them before they meet next year.. And I’ll not certainly miss any of the tournaments. It’ll be a more professional coverage from next time, though.
If there are any sporting events in and around Bangalore, I’ll be happy to cover the event for Citizen Matters. All you have to do is send out a mail.⊕