Football academies have been mushrooming acrosss India

A note on the issue: Growing the game

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Over the last few years, grassroots football has been receiving sponsors and support

Until they started playing deafening music all day, the Maverick & Farmer coffee shop was one of my favourite places to work at in Bengaluru, located as it is beside the RBANM’s football ground, home to the South United Football Club, in Ulsoor. The fresh green of the turf, the blue sky, the sound of cleats and the shouts of young footballers landing goals or cheering one another were an exuberant soundtrack against which to write, edit or take meetings. You’d end up meeting team managers and owners as well as the players, and it’s what sparked the idea for this week’s cover story on the many grass-roots leagues which could lead to national success, and the enthusiasm for football in India.

We’ve never been short on passion for the game—one needs little more than a ball to get started—but in a cricket-crazy country, funding for other sports was always lacking. Over the last few years, however, grass-roots football has been receiving sponsors and support. 

Football academies have been mushrooming in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Mizoram, Goa, Manipur, Kerala and Bengal, and we take a look at whether this is Indian football’s moment of reckoning with infrastructure and money backing players’ passion. The ultimate dream is, of course, to play in the World Cup, but that may be a while away.

To move to the other stories in this issue: we have reviews of books and art exhibitions, shows and music, all of which address the intersection of politics, society, patronage and everyday life. We have a tribute to the multifaceted A. Ramachandran, who died earlier this week, leaving behind paintings, sketches, sculpture, ceramics, children’s books, music and more. It’s inspiring to read about his fascination for nature, and lotus ponds in particular, and his close observations of these micro-ecosystems and the ways they showed up in his art. Pair that with a lyrical piece by Neha Sinha about the brilliance of spring, the simple joy of seeking respite from the sun under a blossom-laden tree, and the resilience of nature and living a full life.

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