Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): As the world is eagerly awaiting the FIFA World Cup’s Final, the craze of football is omnipresent. No place in the world is untouched by the FIFA chants; here in Bhopal, 19 members of a family watch, play, and earn through football.
This family in the city is known as the ‘Football Family’. About 19 members of the Singh family are associated with football. Four of the family's 19 footballers are football coaches, and five are football referees.
Footballer Jai Prakash Singh was the one who introduced the game to the family, and everyone else soon followed suit. He was a wrestler back in the 80’s but due to a major injury to his elbow, he had to quit wrestling, and then he tried his hand at football. He and his brothers were fascinated by the game, and now this is the third generation of his family to play football.
Jai Prakash Singh told the Free Press, "This is our third generation that is playing football. Generally, other families watch family shows when they are together, we watch FIFA and other football leagues when we are together. There was only one play ground where we lived in Bhopal, and I had to fight with the authorities for that ground so that we could play football. The authorities wanted to build a temple there, but I went to the High Court and fought for our ground, and in the end, I won the suit."
While talking about the India team not being able to qualify for the FIFA, Singh said, "In India, we don’t love playing football as much as we love watching it or other sports. The day we start loving football as much as we love our country, India will undoubtedly qualify for the FIFA World Cup. We have football here, but no football culture. We need to instil a football culture in the country."
Devendra Singh, son of JP Singh, said, "All we saw while growing up was football, now my kids also play football. It was very gender neutral for us. My sister is a football coach. It is in our blood now, and we love it." Devendra Singh is currently working as a football coach at the Tatya Tope Stadium in Bhopal.
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