Virat Kohli and Sunil Chhetri, leaders in their own right
Camaraderie in sports can be a wonderful sight. Players jostling together and showing mutual trust and friendship, many say is the need to keep a team strong and united. But what about camaraderie of players across sports. It can be rare only because sporting activities are so hectic. A cricketer in India for instance is hardly free in a year and so too is a footballer. Each has his way to be occupied. But these are Pandemic times when forced rest is the watchword for all, sportspersons included. With sporting activity down to nil, the interest around is to catch something unusual and seeing the camaraderie of Virat Kohli and Sunil Chhetri exhibited on a common platform, had to provide moments of interest, a touch of rarity for the sports-minded. The moments bring out another facet in the personality of the two leading sportspersons of the country.
Talk of leader or leadership of sports in India and perhaps there cannot be a better example in contemporary sports than Kohli and Chhetri, both leaders in their own way, doing their bit for the cause of the side, influencing the players and raising the stock of the sport they are in. Incidentally there are many things common in the two. Both have spent their years from childhood in Delhi and that adds to their closeness and what is more, both are good friends even otherwise! Destiny had prepared them differently. Chhetri, according to his teachers in the Army Public school in Dhaula Kuan, was one of the finest students in his class during his time. Good in studies, playful but well behaved and above all, one who even at that young age would stand apart from the rest. His handwriting was a feature of his character, said one teacher and all felt the young boy had in him to do things neatly. Indian football fraternity has been seeing his neat work on the field from match to match. Be it for the Bangaluru FC or the national team, this short-statured striker was the one often to provide the succour. Many a triumph have been through his daring efforts in the front and as a footballer, his rise was not surprising. Today he has the reputation among current active players world over of being just next to Cristiano Ronaldo in the number of goals(72) scored for the country in international matches.
Like Kohli, Chhetri is another fiercely competitive and is deeply involved in bettering the standards of play and help Indian cricket rise. India, as everybody knows, is one of the foremost country in world. But there the common path for the two ends, only because football in India can never be compared to cricket. The sport after the golden period in the 60s had long lost its way and had even plummeted in ranking to the 180s five years ago. During the 90s when players like Bhaichung Bhutia, I M Vijayan, Chapman, Raman Vijayan, Joe Paul Anchery and the lot, were around, there were signs of a revival. The country could rise to 94, its best after a long time. However, that proved a short revival, before it had to be appreciated, Chhetri and his team-mates could do their bit to bring it around the 100 mark. Perhaps there is hope for more progress but where is the time remains the question. Chhetri, the leader himself, is pushing 36 and there remains the need for opportunities and openings to keep the good work going. The forced rest now has come as a big stumbling block, so it would seem, in all the planning and hope.
Kohli that way got into a sport of great public interest and over the years this bright kid once, moulded himself into one of the best player in the world. Getting established is one thing but getting accepted quite another. The Delhi player had his struggles in his early life, disappointments were huge as a youngster but grit was his strength. Nothing demonstrated that better than the way he returned to the field after his father's death to bat for Delhi in a Ranji match and what is more, saved the side with a painstaking knock of 90. That set him apart, steeled his resolve and the rest has been a story of steady rise. Hardwork has been his forte and that is the message he gives to his colleagues in the team. The U-19 world cup success brought the focus on his leadership quality and sure enough, he has fine-tuned it up in the senior ranks. Today if there is leader and a successful captain, who also influences with his example, then it has to Kohli.
There was time, not far in the past, when cricket followers believed Sachin Tendulkar's marks will never be touched for a long time. With Kolhi's rise, there could be interesting possibilities. He has dominated batting in all formats with tons and tons of runs, touching milestones with ease, and the way he has been excelling, experts believe he could well surpass many a record. Could there be a better example of a fiercely competitive sportsperson. Is there any surprise then that Kohli is a figure respected not just in cricket circles but beyond. A successful leader in every sense. Then again, like any other competitor eyeing for good times ahead, Kolhi too must be worried over this extended pause to cricketing activity. There are so many goals in front of him too just as it is for Chhetri in football, and achievements to be realised but how much this unusual times would rob a great sportsperson of his dreams is the big question. Kohli and Chhetri that way are on the same boat surrounded by uncertainty.