Some people say, Football is all about kicking a ball around and somehow thrusting it into the Net when the goalkeeper’s eyes and reach are elsewhere. Can they be any farther from reality? A bit of it is true, no doubt, but Football also involves concentration, team work, dedication, selflessness, playing together so much so as to be able to read each other’s thoughts on the field, intense discipline, practice, practice, and practice, to name a few. One, ideally, cannot be a part-time footballer. Just as one cannot be a part-time writer.

But here I am talking about a different kind of discipline and dedication. It goes somewhat like this.

– Two weeks before the FIFA World Cup begins, choose the best calendar to follow it, the one in which you can scribble the number of goals scored by each team, who gets through to the Round of 16, who meets who in the Quarter Finals, etc. etc., and paste it on the wall.

– Look at it long and often enough to learn the eight groups by heart, predict in your mind which two teams will get through from each group, and who will eventually meet in the Finals.

– Change your online profile pictures and decorate them with the flags of the teams you support, or their colours.

– Google for the players to look out for, if you don’t follow the league matches. If you do, you already know.

– Finish chores – washing, cleaning, cooking, feeding the kids, et al – before flopping down on the beanbag in front of the TV for the first half. Have dinner and shove the kids to bed – all in 15 minutes – and flop back down for the second half. Clean the kitchen, and wind up the other activities for the day before the next match starts at midnight.

– Swear, cheer, shout, yell and die of tension, all of 90 minutes.

– Update the wall-calendar with the results of the each game. Do permutations and combinations to figure out who could possibly play who if who beats who in the next game(s).

– Experience withdrawal symptom the night after Round-2 ends, because there is no game till the Quarter finals begin the next day.

– Go into in-depth analysis and dissection of games played the previous day, and squeeze your opinions of each kick and corner, throw and goal, mexican waves and referees, Jabulani and Vuvuzela, into every mode of communication.

– Accept without protest, the fact that you get only four or five hours’ of sleep every night.

– Devour the newspaper for articles on the same matches you watched last night. If possible, watch replays.

– Start planning and preparing for the day’s game, early. Time management and punctuality revolve with never-before perfection around the match timings.

Inhi ko kehte hai dedication aur discipline!

Meanwhile, down south, in a small strip of land we call Kerala, a land of Football-crazy people, who raise hoardings for the teams they support, who go bonkers over Brazil and Argentina, is born the Malayalam version of FIFA 2010 Anthem, K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag. A nice video with a lot of Kerala in it – the rains, the children, the slush, the mud, the bus-stand, the old man by the road-side, the cyclist, the market, the small railway station, the football stars… and the smiles, oh, the smiles of the people… Ah… Kerala!