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Who'll support Bopara, Shah, Rashid, Panesar?

by K

With the all important England v Pakistan match slated for this evening, I think this is the right time to express my views on a very contentious issue.

I agree with Andrew Flintoff and Nasser Hussain when they say that Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi immigrants to England should ideally support England as their FIRST team and not their country of origin.

In my view atleast second/third generation Brits of Indian origin: those who hold a British passport, are born in England, educated there, speak and behave like the English, have a parallel culture of their own (be it language, values, music, lifestyle, food, dressing sense, turbans) which is nothing like ours here in India, need to do some introspection before they decide to support India in an India-England game. (Britain's fav dish Chicken Tikka Masala, largely unknown in India, is a manifestation of this parallel culture)

While supporting England in an India-England game, the second generation British Desi does not take the following into consideration:

1. After all players like Bopara, Rashid, Shah and Panesar are also a part of the British Asian community. In fact, they are the true representatives of the community. They have beaten the odds to earn a place in the English team. Who'll support them?

2. The British Desi's support for India in an India-England game alienates him from mainstream British society and leads to further xenophobia among the Brits. This is bad for the Brit Desis themselves (in the long run) as well as for people like us who travel to England once in a while.

So according to me the Brit Desis have a moral duty to support England in Eng vs Ind/Pak games but can support their country of origin whenever Ind/Pak is playing a third team.

Moral of the story: Country of origin needs to be respected and loved but loyalty should be reserved for country of birth and residence. After all, I'd be disgusted if I find a third generation Englishman living in India, supporting England in an India-England match.

Disclaimer: My comments are not aimed at NRIs (Non Resident Indians) or Indian passport holders working abroad but are instead for PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) who are born and bred in a foreign land and hold a foreign passport.

The above-mentioned issue grabbed the attention of the author while he was pursuing his Masters in Law in England (University of Warwick, Warwickshire: Shakespeare's County).


Gaurav Sethi said...

Good stuff K.

Put yourself in the place of this 3rd generation kid - and you can apply all the logic in the world to what he should do, but you cannot change the color of his skin, and the lure of the Blues. Easier being a groupie of a rock n roll team than the bland brigade.

Sometimes I think these kids are far from fanatical than us.

Btw I'm in India, and would like to see Pak win tonight. Or maybe I'd like to see England lose more.

Q said...

Thats a very talked about topic K, especially amongst the desis who have lived outside their home countries all their life, such as me.

Is it really a moral obligation to support the country of birth/residence? Should support not come from your emotions / feelings?

I believe supporting one team or person over another is a natural choice, and not one that anyone can make.

I've lived in the UAE all my life, and my brother may soon make it to the UAE cricket team as well, but never would I be able to bring myself to support the UAE over Pakistan in a cricket match.

I would like to see Pakistan win all the time.

UAE against any other team, yeah I will back them. The way I was doing during the ICC qualifiers.

This topic has also been discussed by scientists studying behavioral issues amongst teens growing up in foreign lands.. they reckon their association to their home country can be judged by which sport team they support: country of origin or residence?

I understand completely what ur saying and why ur saying that.. but to get oneself to feel its a moral obligation to support one country / team is extremely difficult.

achettup said...

I always thought you were free to choose who you wanted to support. Don't get me wrong, but if I support ANY team against India and someone told me I was being unpatriotic I would punch him in the face. For the simple reason that supporting a sporting team should have nothing to do with patriotism, in fact in my personal opinion people who support a team purely because of their patriotic sentiments bring more damage and harm to the game and take losses a lot more personally than they should. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but to me its just a game, albeit one I love very much.

RajaB said...

Brilliant stuff...

This is typically a subcontinental thing I would say. I am sure an Alan Lamb, Greame Hick & a Kevin Pieterson would support England more than a Owais Shah or a Paneser...

K said...

I'm glad that my post has triggered such varied reactions. It was worth spending all that time writing this one.

Perhaps our Brit desis should draw some inspiration from Sonia Gandhi for obvious reasons.

straight point said...

'K'racker of post...

wherever you live there is this connection with homeland and they always face this dilemma whom to support...

dil don't think logical way...that's why they say dillogical... :)

K said...

Dear Achettup, please don't take it to heart. You don't need to punch anyone. Your supporting any team against India in a one-off match cannot be compared to the regular support India receives from the Brit Desis (who think India is what they see in Hindi films).

I totally agree on the point that cricket is just a game. But sport has often been used as a tool to convey larger messages and that's the point I was trying to highlight thru my post.

Examples of sport being used to convey a political message:

1. India made it to the Davis Cup final against South Africa in 1974 and rightly declined to play against the Springboks due to their government's racist policies. Final conceded, South Africa won. Strong message sent out by Indian government against Apartheid.

2. Another political statement was made by two African-American sprinters - Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists in the men's 200-meters at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Both took their places on the podium for the medal ceremony barefooted and wearing civil rights badges, lowered their heads and each defiantly raised a black-gloved fist as the Star Spangled Banner was played. Both of them were members of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. Strong message sent out by athletes on behalf of their community even though they gave their best for their country.

So similarly, international cricket CAN be used as a stage by the Brit Desi cricket fans to show their intent and make a symbolic gesture in favour of their adopted nation.

Patriotism is an emotion and sport is all about emotions. The two cannot be separated according to me.

Q said...

"So similarly, international cricket CAN be used as a stage by the Brit Desi cricket fans to show their intent and make a symbolic gesture in favour of their adopted nation"

Why is this targeted at only Brit desis?

And what is the exact symbolic gesture that they will make by supporting England over India or Pakistan?

U said it right that sport is about emotions, so if the Brit desis feel more connected to their Indian origins than their adopted nation then its their emotions at play.

I do believe however that a 1st or 2nd generation Indian in the UK will support India..

The support among 3rd generations may be a bit lesser but due to their parents support for India they wud also naturally end up supporting India.

4th generation gets tougher.

I'm a 2nd generation Paki living in the UAE. I could have easily grown up supporting the UAE at soccer or cricket but cos of watching my dad root for Pakistan always, I do the same and my brothers the same.

Maybe my kid, if I ever have one, may grow up supporting the UAE. In case he doesn't interact with me as much ;-)

Naresh said...

Freddie is deeply into immigration issues these days. After all he is worried about his kid going to bars and all that cos of rap music.

Nasser - now this guy is half Indian - his mother is a brit. I think that makes it different - and Nass may have a complex going that he needs to prove that he is a bonafide brit (what's the brit equiv of "fair dinkum aussie"?).

Any other brit cricketers hankering bout this?