FEATURE: India's footballers find a new pitch in cyberspace

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  • Subject: FEATURE: India's footballers find a new pitch in cyberspace
  • From: "Frederick Noronha (FN)" <fred at bytesforall dot org>
  • Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2004 04:20:51 +0530 (IST)
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    • 
      >From Frederick Noronha
      
      Goa: India's top football players, coaches and clubs are battling it out in
      cyberspace, and the initiative launched even has an unusual Euro touch to
      it.
      
      Indianfootball.com, a six-year-old website launched by an Indian expat, is
      having an unusual battle off the field to see how fans rate their favourite
      football teams. This site is itself largely run by football fans and
      students.
      
      Voting is currently underway at the Internet-based website
      http://specials.indianfootball.com/ifcawards/index2.html Anyone with access
      to the Internet is entitled to take part, after mentioning the country they
      come from and their email address.
      
      The first round was held until June 6. All fans could name their favourites.
      Since June 7 until mid-July, the top five in each section are shortlisted
      for further voting.
      
      "Over the last three years, the response picks-up in the final round. My
      guess would be that some fans do not know whom to vote for, so they wait for
      the final round to cast their votes. This year over 200 people have voted so
      far and still a lot of time for voting is left for the people," said Arunava
      Chaudhuri, the brain behind the IndianFootball.com site.
      
      But the trend is growing. In 2002, only 40 people had voted, while last year
      a hundred joined in. Chaudhuri sees balloting participation coming mainly
      from football fans around India.
      
      "Some Indian football fans around the globe say they don't vote as they've
      not seen anything of the action. Other NRIs back players they think are best
      going by the IndianFootball.Com website coverage. There are also people who
      vote for the players, coaches and clubs from their region," says Chaudhuri.
      
      Is this voting having an impact back home?
      
      "Yes, the Indian football circles do take note of this vote. Some players
      and managers even cast their votes. If we are able to put an
      IndianFootball.Com Awards evening together, then all will be forced to take
      note. No one has ever organised an even to present awards to the best of the
      last season. We're looking for sponsorship," he said in an interview.
      
      These awards -- being undertaken for the third time -- are, according to
      Chaudhuri, "the only Indian football voting, where the fans can vote for
      award winning performances of the last season".
      
      Growing beyond simply giving out cyber-awards, the site is toying with the
      possibilities of organising an award gala evening, possibly in
      early-September in Kolkata, where trophies could be handed over to winners.
      
      Chaudhuri started IndianFootball.com in April 1998. He currently has five
      volunteer editors -- two in Germany, and one each in Singapore, Kolkata and
      Durgapur. This site claims to have an average of 600 hits per day.
      
      Competing in the player of the year category Baichung Bhutia (East Bengal),
      Mahesh Gawli (East Bengal), Tomba Singh (Salgaocar SC), Renedy Singh (Mohun
      Bagan) and Shanmugam Venkatesh (Mahindra Utd).
       
      Fighting it out for the 'foreign player of the year' title are  Cristiano De
      Lima Junior (East Bengal), Douglas Da Silva (East Bengal), MacPherlin Dudu
      Omagbemi (SC de Goa), Mike Okoro (East Bengal) and Yakubu Yusif (Churchill
      Brothers).
      
      Ashim Biswas (Mohun Bagan), Subhash Chakrabory (East Bengal), Clifford
      Miranda (Dempo SC), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (TFA) and Shylo Malswam
      Tulunga (East Bengal) are vying for the 'rookie' (newcomer) of the year.
      
      Coaches vying for the title are Mauricio Afonso (India U18 Team), Armando
      Colaco (Dempo SC), Stephen Constantine (India Senior Team), Subhas Bhowmick
      (East Bengal), David Booth (Mahindra Utd).
      
      Two Goa clubs -- Dempo Sports Club and Sporting Clube de Goa -- are in the
      race for the 'team of the year' title, along with East Bengal Club of
      Calcutta, the India Senior Team and the India U-20 Team.
      
      Winners in 2002 were Jules Alberto (Indian player), Jose Barreto (foreign
      player), Ashim Biswas (rookie), Subrata Bhattacharjee (coach) and Mohan
      Bagan (team).
      
      In 2003, coming out on tops were Alvito D'Cunha (Indian player), Yakubu
      Yusif (foreign player), Ashim Biswas (rookie), Subhas Bhowmick (coach) and
      East Bengal Club (team of the year).
      
      Some of its initiatives so far include a 'special' on India's campaign in
      the World Cup qualifiers titled 'India's passage to Germany'. "It was based
      on our dream that we would see India play here in Germany in 2006. It was
      unrealistic, but sadly that's what dreams often are," says Chaudhuri, who is
      himself based in Germany.
      
      The site has also put out a special focus on the Indian national team,
      Indian clubs in Asian competition, the trail-brazing Baichung Bhutia, and
      'live' coverage of Indian football such as the three England tours of the
      national team, or the Champion League match between Bayer Leverkusen-New
      Castle United which saw a Michael Chopra in action.
      
      "It is not always easy to run IndianFootball.Com sitting in Germany but it
      is fun for us as real Indian football fans and we enjoy our work," Arunava
      Chaudhuri was recently quoted saying. (ENDS)
      -- 
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      d88888b d8b   db   Frederick Noronha * Freelance Journalist * Goa India
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