Simply enter your keyword and we will help you find what you need.

What are you looking for?

Novy Kapadia

Novy Kapadia

Novy Kapadia

How did you gravitate towards football?

I was no partygoer and my life revolved around football — playing, reading about it and watching matches at the stadium, as there was no TV in those days.
I too had raging hormones and was attracted to some girls in my school bus (the students of St. Columba’s and and the neighbouring Convent of Jesus and Mary used to travel by the same bus, which led to many blossoming romances). But when football was on in the Capital — DCM Trophy invariably in October and Durand Cup in November-December — my interest in the opposite sex faded, I never attended Christmas and New Year parties as all the thrills of my life were at the Delhi Gate Stadium.

Why did you think there has been a decline in the footballing culture in the national capital of Delhi?

It is perhaps one of the greatest tragedies. The way Hyderabad is now finished and has completely disappeared from the footballing scene and the way Delhi as a footballing city declined… I grew up at Kashmere Gate and we had patches of open ground everywhere to play in. Clubs like City Club and India Nationals were the talk of the town in Old Delhi. They may have been amateur, but there was a proper setup, a system and a local connection. Sadly, that no longer exists. And with the way grounds in Delhi are becoming inaccessible, it may not improve either.

What is your take on the lack of attendance at the U-17 World Cups?

All three group stage matches of India in the 2017 edition of U-17 World Cup were played in Delhi at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Though attendance was decent at all games, the stands were largely filled by schoolchildren. In a nutshell, Delhi’s inability to connect with a sport — except perhaps cricket or akin to the likes of Kolkata — is all the more disheartening given the fact it was once a bastion of footballing culture. The spectacle is not the answer. You can’t throw money at the problem here. There is simply no connection with the game. Whether it comes from communities or the street, football is always about local identity. Small clubs, small leagues. Ideally, every state in India should have its own local leagues. But that won’t happen anytime soon.

Do you have any incidents to narrate which really annoyed you about the infrastructure for football in our country?

I was invited to a game in Allahabad. The teams there had to bring their own footballs. There was no medical help available. A player told me that once two of their footballs were deflated, so they couldn’’t go ahead with a game. That is the state of it, away from centres like Kolkata that we pride ourselves on. If a state footballing body doesn’’t even have their own footballs, what does that say about initiative?

How did your tryst with commentary begin?

It was the 80s when India was hosting the Asian Games and more people were needed for commentary. I’d gradually realised that there was very little material available in English on Indian football.I remember my stint as an editor with the Durand Annual Magazine (which used to publish the results of India’s all major tournaments) with nostalgia. It became an almanac for football, was only source of information even for the club matches. They had great information from the 1950s which they didn’t know how to use, I began writing articles on how football was before three decades. I really enjoyed talking to former players, coaches, researching and writing.

How was the experience of writing the book?

I was very hesitant to write the book, I had a full-time job at Delhi University and January-March is a time where I get busy with commentary and I’m left with little time. After a few meetings, what clinched the deal was the publisher’s emphasis on coming up with a book on Indian football right before the 2017 U-17 football world cup started. I had to keep aside certain time for the book and revisit it from time to time. I enjoyed writing the chapter ‘Battle for supremacy’ in Barefoot… (that discusses iconic football battles in the country) the most, our leadup to the semi-finals in 1956, our 1962 Asian Games gold medal, specially when crowds were against us. What a heroic victory that was. We were like akin to freedom fighters in the match we played at Jakarta

About the Interviewee:

Novy Kapadia is a renowned sports journalist and columnist, and teaches English literature at Delhi University. Recognized as India's foremost football expert and commentator on leading television channels, he is the author of The Football Fanatic's Essential Guide Book, and has contributed to Soccer in South Asia and Fields of Play. Novy has been consultant to the Limca Book of Records from 1990 onwards, and has edited the Durand Journal-India's most comprehensive football journal-since 1983. Since 1980, he has covered several international championships, including the World Cup and the Olympics, and all major domestic tournaments.
Novy won the Wills Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism in 1986. He lives in Delhi.