Hyderabad's sports lovers have moved beyond Sania and Saina. With Euro 2012 also creating a buzz, Vishnupriya Bhandaram explores the world of sporting action that cheers the city

There is something about sports that sweeps the entire city in one go. Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupati floored the world at the French Open a few days back and soon after, Saina Nehwal proved her mettle at the Thailand Open. Sports perhaps is a spectators' delight — when you watch the racket or the cricket bat swing or watch a strong defence in football, it warms you up from the inside. The city is currently revelling in the joy of these recent wins and not to mention the on-going EURO football championship, which is sending out ripples of abuses, lock-downs and crazy cheering among team fans at sports pubs across the city.

Tweens and teens however usually go by the social currents in the sports world. During the Football Worldcup, it's football, while Cricket sees the light of the day during the IPL and ODIs, Twenty20s or the World Cup. Nikhil Thatipalli, a seventh grader, and a sports junkie says he goes with the flow and follows whatever is on the television. These days he is revelling in Football; he supports Team Italy and screams, ‘Forza Italia'. The timing however is just not right for Nikhil, with matches starting only by 9.30 pm and 11.30 pm during the night, permission to watch his favourite team play ball, eludes him. With the schools reopening for the new session, it is a complaint shared by many other students.

Victor Amalraj, former Indian captain of the Indian Football team who is in full support for Germany and Spain, rubbishes the question of letting children watch matches. He says that it's a once-in-four-years opportunity, the essence of sports and games shouldn't be taken away from children, “It's a matter of another two weeks, I say let the kids watch the matches and enjoy the beautiful sport called Football. It is citing these big events that the simple and refreshing game gets its due in a cricket savvy country like ours,” he says.

News of victories by Sania and Saina is also being cheered in the city. Praveen Bhargava, Joint Secretary of Andhra Pradesh Lawn Tennis Association (APLTA), however says that these wins won't miraculously shift gears of the Indian mindset, who he believes are still interested in academics, “These wins are celebrated but it will take a couple of days for it to sink in and create a fresh wave of tennis aspirants,” he says.

Table-tennis player and computer science engineering student at IIT Hyderabad, Naveen Chintamaneni recalls the times spent in the hostels when boys huddle together to watch matches: be it football, tennis or cricket. He admits that cricket evokes the maximum interest. Vamshi Bandii, a graduate from the University of Hyderabad chimes in saying that he doesn't follow football that avidly but enjoys an occasional game or two. Naveen points out that it's the matches between football clubs that evoke the most cheers and jeers. “My friends have never been to Argentina or Brazil but they will defend a team till their last breath. It's funny how effective sports can be,” points out Ravi Kedia, a standard XII student.

When Ram Mudiganti says, “Don't watch just one sport, juggle between all. It's more fun,” it's easy to believe him, because in that all-inclusive attitude lies the true nature of Hyderabad, where tennis, football, cricket and hockey all get their dues!

Keywords: Euro 2012football

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