The Indian cricket team may be the toast of the country after beating Pakistan and South Africa in the ongoing World Cup, but the captain of national rugby side Nasser Hussain rues the fact that the gentleman’s game has robbed other sports of their sheen in terms of development and exposure.
“We are not competing with another sport but we do get an unfair amount of support in every possible way. Be it infrastructure or visibility or the private sector investing or government taking initiatives towards that. We (rugby) are not even in the top three of Indian sport, but the likes of hockey, which is our national sport, does not get that sort of support, which is unfortunate,” Hussain told PTI in an interview.
“Even other sports, which are part of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, that get you the medals don’t get that much of support, so it is a bias towards cricket. Having said that we don’t hold it against the cricketers,” he added.
The Mumbai-born player is also concerned about various dedicated cricket facilities, which lie vacant for most part of the year, but cannot be used for other sports.
“There are infrastructures which are not used throughout the year because it has a cricket pitch on which just a handful of games are played in a year. Whereas world over there are multi-sport facilities which are used by different sports all throughout,” he said.
“So that’s just unique to India I think, where if there is a cricket field it’s only for cricket, and football or any other sport cannot use it. It’s a shame and bit disappointing because there is lack of space and facilities and then you make it a dedicated field. Even if you use it every single day it is understandable but it’s just being used on weekends or the odd event that they (cricket) hold,” he added.
India, who are ranked 69th in the rugby world rankings led by New Zealand, have imnproved by leaps and bounds in the last few years and Hussain is hopeful of the game spreading its wings in the cricket crazy nation.
“The sport in terms of development has grown in the last few years. I mean in the last 5 years, say before the Commonwealth Games we did get a fair amount of publicity. Upto the CWG it was only restricted to the major metros, but in the last five years we have seen it trickle down to cities and smaller towns and in states where much rugby had not been played,” Hussain said.