Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Italy - FIFA World Cup 2002

While we just talked about Russian sports it would be worthwhile talking about other sports too. Besides, a break from the Soviet era would really be refreshing I feel. I was always a very keen cricketer – for the school, for the North Zone Schools, at the National Defense Academy, for the Navy and even had a crack at the Services team for the Ranji Trophy. But, in school it was necessary to play Hockey and Football as well, for the simple reason that our sports teacher felt that these games were necessary for character building. He said nothing about making money through sports.

These days I believe there is no emphasis on character building sports! Instead encouragement is given to boys and girls to go hammer and tongs (how this can be translated by my non English speaking friends beats me) at cricket. Many young men in India these days do make a neat pile in the shortest period of time and also become household names. But, I am digressing. In school the sports honcho need not have forced me to play these character building sports, for I genuinely felt, in those days that I would come good in Hockey and Football as well as in cricket. It so happened that because I kept wicket in cricket, my classmates automatically felt that my place was between the goal posts, and so it was. I never became a Dhyan Chand or Pele. Didn’t even reach the standard of Maradona. All that I achieved in these games at school were a couple of broken toes and a permanently bent finger. Notwithstanding the fact that I never indulged in these character-building games again, I remained a keen follower to this day. And so in 2002 when I happened to be in Hong Kong, I was desperately keen to go to Korea for the FIFA 2002 World Cup. This was really a great occasion as the World Cup matches had been allotted to an Asian country for the first time. But, the choice was staying on for a gorgeous holiday in Hong Kong and then on to Jakarta for an even bigger bash, on the one hand and the FIFA world Cup on the other. In hindsight I think I chose correctly by turning down the World Cup.

However, I was lucky as my good friend and brother-in-law happened to go to Korea and brought the world cup to me. Please see the date stamped brochure as well as the miniature sheets of stamps issued by the Republic of Korea to commemorate this Great Event in their country.

(click to enlarge)

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