For once, last night, I was able to watch a match without getting all worked up, tensed. My knowledge about football is very shallow; it's mostly confined to semifinals and finals of FIFA World Cup spectacles. So, last night, I was not particularly rooting for either France or Croatia. Yes, somewhere inside me there was a soft spot for Croatia and I wanted them to win…

But, it was just a match. Only one of the two teams could win… France did. And, I was happy for France, too.

Sports and sportsmanship, the more I think about them, I realize, that  are two of the finest and most empowering words in human dictionary. What the sports field can teach us, nothing else in life can. I, myself, was a very shy and aloof boy while I was growing up. I don’t remember playing any outdoor or indoor games in my life. So, it took many, many years to comprehend what sports could do to one’s self-confidence and outlook towards life…

I am lucky, and feel blessed, that I am able to appreciate and value that outlook, now, even though I did not play any sport at all in my life…

I tell it openly in my classroom to my students, “If you are  a true sportsperson, you are a winner in life,” I tell them, “You, invariably, do well in other fields, too.”

“A true sport.” Who do we say this to?

Last night, I said this to the two most gracious and young Presidents - of France and Croatia. To me, they were the winners of the  FIFA World Cup Final, last night… They, like their respective country citizens and fans, rooted for their own teams… But, they did show immense respect and warmth to their opponents. It was just a football match… not a life-and-death situation. The two Presidents showed enough warmth and grace not only to each other, but to each and every member of the two teams, including the coaches and  referees…

And, yes, like everybody fell for Kolinda, the matchless, gracious and sporting, young and beautiful Croatian President, I, too, did. Honestly, I had never seen anything of that sort, ever before, at a presentation ceremony, particularly when you find yourself on the vanquished side… It takes a huge amount of self-confidence and faith in this gift called – ‘Life’, to do that. When Kolinda gave those hugs to each and every player, coach and referee, one after another, when she held the hand of French President, Macron, and leaned over his shoulders with warmth, I felt that warmth and affection from here, thousands of miles away from Moscow!

To me, Kolinda was the epitome of true sportsmanship… She was a true winner, last night, yes, alongside Macron.

My wife was busy with her work in another room. So, she did not watch the match, last night. Post the presentation ceremony, when I went inside, my wife asked me, “Who won?”

“Kolinda,” I said.

“Who?” my wife reacted.

“The lady President of Croatia, Kolinda,” I replied.

Then, I explained to my wife as to what I had meant. I evoked before her the images of the warmth Kolinda had emitted through her hugs, winning the hearts of millions world over…

“How, how, show me,” my wife was excited…

And, I showed my wife how, like a true sport!


Pics.: Internet


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