Saturday, March 26, 2011

National Pride And the National Anthem

One of the things I like to watch when teams play in a tournament like the World Cup is the pride they wear on their sleeve for their country. I believe firmly that unless you have a deep love for your country and are willing to play for the pride of your country, you cannot stretch yourself to win against bigger oppositions or even against your own self-imposed limitations. It is the belief in the cause that you are fighting for that will bring the team together and none can be more nobler than the country whose colours you represent.

For South Africa it has been a period of getting past the choker tag - which places them at the bottom of the pool in terms of the belief. I do not know what that team is playing for and what is distracting such talent. Is is the history of the country, the politics that they are unable to come to terms with, the doubt of what the right path is? I would like to know what cause South Africa plays for and what its belief is. For teams like Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands there is clearly national pride at stake and that shows in their attitude and their upset wins. For the West Indies that pride has long since gone and the team plays like a team of mercenaries come together with no common cause. Unfortunately they are also not even a fraction of the true blue professionals that Lloyd's team was, who knew what was expected of them and who did that clinically. They were complete pros, the experts at what they did and they took pride in their being the best.

India, Pakistan, Lanka are all in the same boat. They have won it once, have enough firepower to win it again, India has the best team, but they are all plagued by belief issues. Are we good enough? The whole world knows it is good enough but - only as a team that performs 'more than its 100%' - as Dhoni said the other night when it beat a resilient but a not-so-good, Australia. This belief can be bound together, is normally bound together by national pride, one that the whole team must feel with every cell of their being. For India thankfully the skipper is very clear that he is playing for the country, Sachin has time and again made it clear that he prides the India cap more than anything and he has been an exemplary soldier for the country, at times risking his non- controversial image for greater good as he did when he spoke at variance with the Shiv Sena which tried to project him as a Marathi manoos first who owes allegiance to Mumbai first and then India. Sachin categorically put the perspective right for all those who did not know - that we are Indians first.

When the national anthems are playing I watch the players. I love the way Younis Khan sings it, loud, hands on his heart, Dhoni sings it each time, relaxed and straight forward as does most of the Indian team which does show considerable national pride (you can get louder guys), the English sing it as well. I see certain players in several teams who appear to not even hear what is going on. There I think is a give away, a chink, in teams. The cause. If the team has no common cause, no lofty goal, no inspiring ideal like playing for the country, it can be exploited even if it has the best talent.

I guess its the same with families, organisations, institutions all over.

If I were the coach of any side representing the country I'd make it mandatory for the entire team, on the field and off it, the support staff to sing it loud and clear, hands on the heart, eyes on the flag. More on this later, after I watch the other teams more carefully.

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