At a time when a large section of desi male youth is hooked on to the ongoing FIFA World Cup, can our TV guys be any different.
Today we speak to self-confessed football freak, Manav Gohil.
“While most will soon forget The Beautiful Game till the next European Championship, I will continue to eat, live and drink football. This sport is my life.”
However, Manav, who is currently essaying Emperor Krishnadevaraya in SAB TV’s Tenali Rama, says, “Luckily though, the tide is turning. The rise of ISL has certainly helped to raise the bar of Indian football. I sincerely hope we make a good attempt at the next World Cup edition, where, reportedly, there are more qualification slots, up for grabs. Asia always had the least slots until now. This time, we only had three Asian teams qualify, i.e. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Japan.”
Shifting gears to what’s happening in Russia now, he says, “France is my firm favorite to lift the cup. Having said that, we must concede that even the other semi-finalists are equally good. England and Croatia do know their football.”
He further shares: “I really felt for the hosts, whom the latter knocked out of the quarters via heart-breaking penalties. I hope no succeeding matches go down to the sudden death shootout.”
Ask Manav, who plays centre-forward, whether the attackers get more glory, and he says, “Agreed, they do get the media attention as the goal-scorers, but those in the know appreciate the fact that football is a team game. Whenever a goal is scored, everyone, from the goal-keeper to the deep defenders, cries out in happiness. Giving our TV analogy, on set, I will not call myself the hero of the show, knowing that light men also play their part.”
So how often do you play, and with whom? “Twice a week; we TV actors have our own football league, which includes Karan Wahi, VivianDsena, Barun Sobti, etc., and a few casting guys. Matches are planned via our WhatsApp group. The best part of playing football is that after 90 minutes of play, you don’t need to hit the gym, for you get a full cardio workout. However, 10 years down the road, I might have to hang up my football boots, for my body will not only slow down, but also become more injury prone.”
In closing, we ask him about female interest in the game, and he says, “Sadly, most Indian women don’t get football. The girls and wives of my international friends are very clued-in, and sometimes, play in the female league as well.”