Thursday, October 28, 2010

Return of the Trequartista

(Also posted at:

More than two years back, I had written on the death of the trequartista – the conventional number 10 who looks to operate between the lines of the opposition’s midfield and defence. The position’s demise was a product, chiefly, of formations incorporating straight lines, and the emergence of spoilers in midfield. As the impressive Zonal Marking website points out, one of the predominant trends of the noughties was the declining role of the classical ‘number 10’. Lionel Messi, and Wayne Rooney, two players who in previous eras may have been perfectly suited for the role, either attacked from the wings, or played in more advanced positions. But with the emergence of the 4-2-3-1, the prototype made famous by Spain, with its World Cup triumph, the trequartista has returned from its grave, albeit with a more varied function. Players donning the role are now required to be more versatile, and to not merely act as the creative fulcrum of their team, but also to perform a more complete task.

This year’s World Cup finals in South Africa saw, at least, three of the semi-finalists, Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany, play with an old-style playmaker, even if as more complete versions. Each of them employed a 4-2-3-1, albeit, in their own unique fashion. Xavi Hernandez, although deployed, sometimes, in a deeper role by Barcelona, played ahead of Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets for Spain, while an unusually cynical Dutch team, utilised Wesley Sneijder in a role not too dissimilar to the one he plays for Inter Milan. The revelation, though, was Mesut Ozil, who used his dazzling technique to superb effect for Germany, supported ably by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira, who helped dictate the tempo of the game from deeper positions in midfield. Even Uruguay, the fourth semi-finalist, who employed a formation largely akin to a 4-4-2, used Diego Forlan as a withdrawn striker. Forlan looked to combine the role of a creator with the goal-scoring that he is now renowned for.

In many ways, the Argentine term for the playmaker – the enganche – describes the task of the player better. The enganche is the one who acts as the hook, between the midfield and the striker(s). The term, though, could be just as applicable to a player operating deeper in midfield, looking to link the defence to the midfield. Most modern teams tend to play with a double hook – one operating between the defence and midfield, and another between the midfield and the frontline, with a third central midfielder remaining largely static. Without going into excessive detail on the roles of individuals, it may be said that there is one central midfielder operating as the hook between the backline and the defence, one central midfielder remaining largely static in the centre of the park, and one central midfielder tying the midfield to the frontline. The latter is the one, commonly referred to as the playmaker, the heart-beat of the team if you please. But such a categorisation is anachronistic, for the responsibility to create play is far more spread out in the modern day scenario.

The additional responsibilities of the playmaker are also a result of the phenomenon of using inside-out wingers – playing right footed players on the left wing, and vice-versa. This calls for greater attacking verve from the full-backs, who are the only source of attacking width for the team, causing one of the central midfielders to often drop into the backline. Consequently, if the designated playmaker fails to drop deeper, considerable space could be conceded in the middle of the park. Sometimes though, the numerical demarcation of a formation fails to paint the entire picture. Last season’s treble winning Inter Milan side shaped as a 4-2-3-1, but the defence sat deep, and the anchors in midfield looked to operate more as play-breakers than playmakers. And with Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev used in wide positions, a huge chunk of the responsibility to create rested on Wesley Sneijder, much like it did, on conventional playmakers of the years gone by. No doubt, he excelled at the role, but the alignment is more of an exception than the rule in modern-day football.

In England, the prevalence of the 4-4-2, with both the central midfielders adopting a largely box-to-box role, was exploited to great effect, first by Eric Cantona, and later by Gianfranco Zola and Dennis Bergkamp, who slid deeper into the gaping hole between the opposition’s midfield and defensive lines. The natural progression should have seen teams place one of the midfielders in a withdrawn position, with the space made vacant by such a midfielder filled by one of the central strikers. But the development didn’t occur until continental styles began to enjoy greater influence in the country.

It is fair to say that the Premier League lacked in tactical sophistication for much of its existence. In fact, for most of its time, positional categorisations did not include a ‘second striker’ or a ‘playmaker’. But in the last decade, the league has progressed significantly, so much so that even revered exponents of the 4-4-2, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, have tweaked their systems to suit the needs of the time. No doubt, Manchester United continue to use the system for a lot of their Premier League games, but a lot of their success over the last four years has come on the back of an adaptability to various tactical systems. Wenger seems to have more or less settled on a 4-2-1-3 of sorts this season, with Cesc Farbegas acting as the modern-day playmaker, a lynchpin of sorts for the team. Alex Song looks to offer the muscle, and either Denilson or Jack Wilkshire play from deeper in midfield, but as ball-players. Fabregas is given greater freedom to operate closer to the front three, a position from which he can make maximum use of his artistic vision. The difference, though, from playmakers of yesteryear is that Fabregas, while not particularly renowned for his tackling, is a player vested with far superior responsibility.

Carlo Ancelotti, who used a unique system – one involving two advanced playmakers, in Kaka and Clarence Seedorf – during his time at A.C. Milan, has tended to operate with a similarly wing-less system at Chelsea, but one devoid of particularly inventive playmakers. Three of his midfield four look to shuttle up and down the pitch, while Jon Obi Mikel acts both as a defensive shield, and as a hook between the defence and the midfield. Nicolas Anelka, more often than not, used as a second striker is given freedom to drop into the hole, or to run the channels. The team therefore, lacks a designated Number 10, but the vitality of Florent Malouda, and Michael Essien, sees the pair perform dual roles for the club. Ancelotti hasn’t yet had the time to shape his squad to suit his style, but ultimately I see a more stereotyped Number 10 operating ahead of Essien and Mikel in the middle of the pitch for Chelsea.

Tottenham Hotspur’s tactical set-up this season is quite fascinating, in that it showcases the contemporary prototype very well. Against Everton, last Saturday, they lined up with Peter Crouch as a lone striker, and Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale as traditional wingers. The key though lied in the central midfield, where Wilson Palacios and Sandro played a half each as the defensive shield in midfield, and Luka Modric operated as the hook deep in midfield, and Rafael Van der Vaart was used as the advanced playmaker.

Interestingly the World Cup also saw the return, albeit fleetingly, of systems involving a back three. This would normally entail a corresponding trident in midfield that includes a more conventional playmaker. Chile, under the enigmatic Marcelo Bielsa, shaped up in a 3-3-1-3, utilising either Jorge Valdivia or Matias Fernandez as the playmaker. No doubt, their tactics were at times reactionary – shifting to four at the back, when up against teams that played a single centre-forward – but viewed independently, it proved revelatory, and offered considerable viewing pleasure. Europe though remains quite obsessed on four-man defences. Napoli, perhaps, represent the greatest exception. Paolo Cannavaro, Hugo Campagnaro, and Salvatore Aronica line up at the back, with Edinson Cavani, and Ezequiel Lavezzi constituting a fluid attack, that has Marek Hamsik operating in the hole. Hamsik, again, belongs to the newer brand of playmakers, ones who are just as comfortable tracking back, as they are dictating the flow of the attack.

The Egyptian national team has been another exception in this regard. They may not have entered a World Cup Finals since 1990, but they’ve won the last three editions of the African Cup of Nations deploying a three man backline. Egypt boasts two tremendous wing-backs in Sayed Moawad and Ahmed Fathy, which allows them to play narrow in midfield, with both the second striker, and one of the three central-midfielders looking to operate in the hole. Their three man backline also means that the central midfielders are not required to drop deeper than normal, allowing them to both out-muscle teams in the middle of the park, and to utilise the skills of their playmakers fully.

The decline of the classical playmaker also saw the emergence of ball-playing holding midfielders, as opposed to pure spoilers in the Claude Makelele mould, as pointed out by Zonal Marking. This recent resurgence of creators competent to play in the middle could also be seen as a direct consequence of the decline in spoilers. But that would mean tactical changes have been merely oscillating back and forth. Such an analysis oversimplifies the issue. Besides, the versatility of the modern-day playmaker has made it that much harder for teams to field a pure spoiler. Someone like Sneijder, who is as much at ease operating behind a centre forward as he is playing from the left, can easily float into spaces left unoccupied by the spoiler.

In the final analysis, there is no doubting that the central playmaker has returned to the fore in recent times. But as a consequence of attacking full-backs, inverted wingers, and the presence of a midfielder operating almost as a third centre back, (which in itself may be consequence of the earlier two trends) the trequartista, while continuing to operate in an almost indefinable position, is a far more complete package.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Elegant Eleven

Also posted at:

In the lead-up to Cricinfo’s selection of the best test team of all time, Suresh Menon picked an Elegant XI, ‘a group who couldn’t be graceless if they tried’. The Eleven while boasting players of renowned elegance, such as David Gower and Gundappa Vishwanath, does not contain a single player who I have witnessed live on T.V., let alone in flesh. Hence, the present exercise to list an Elegant XI comprising mostly of players that I have seen, at least on occasion, from the stands.

  1. Saeed Anwar: In the most graceful manner, Anwar could combine crafty placement and expert timing to devastating effect. His drives through cover-point – using his sinuous wrists to guide the ball – were in particular a sight to cherish. Most of his 194 runs at Chepauk in an ODI against India were made with the aid of a by-runner, but by god, was it gorgeous!
  2. Michael Vaughan: Although a crisp driver through the offside, Vaughan’s stand out stroke was the one-legged pull shot. Invariably timed to perfection, he made full use of this expertise on the fast tracks of Australia. Quick to grasp the length, he always seemed to have time to play his strokes – something, which he utilised in an artfully pleasing manner.
  3. V.V.S. Laxman: Perhaps nobody can boast of having played as many aesthetically appealing knocks under the most trying circumstances, as Laxman has. Australia and a crisis seem to bring out the best in him – causing what may have otherwise been a pretty 30 or 40 to turn into a knock of majestic beauty, and decisive importance.
  4. Mark Waugh: A batsman of extraordinary grace and ability, the younger Waugh made batting look ridiculously easy, so much so that it was sometimes mistaken for carelessness. The flick off the toes and the square drive hit with purity were, in particular, pleasing to the eye. Waugh also had the rare quality of being both languid and imperious at once. Even his sashay down the track against the spinners was a thing of beauty – almost balletic in its execution.
  5. Mohammad Azharuddin: Forget the supposed technical deficiencies; Azhar at his best was a sight for the gods. He used his supple wrists to generate spectacular results. Balls from several inches outside the off-stump would be despatched to the mid-wicket boundary with contemptuous ease.
  6. Damien Martyn: Of them all though, Martyn was the finest. He could make batting look both ludicrously, easy and beautiful. Irrespective of the format, his batting remained pristine; unbothered it seemed from the outside happenings. His cover drive could be so brutal that it is embarrassing to call it pretty, but it certainly was the jewel in his crown of splendid strokes.
  7. Kumar Sangakarra: I have picked Sangakarra more for his batting than for his wicket-keeping. With keepers increasingly focusing on their willow-work as opposed to their glove-work, the days of the elegant wicketkeeper are, perhaps, long gone. Amongst the recent lot, though, none has batted more pleasingly than Sangakarra. A top-handed player, Sangakarra has some of the typical left-hander’s elegance about him. Although effective on both sides of the wicket, it is his flamboyant drives through the offside, which stand out as the hallmark of his batting.
  8. Wasim Akram: Akram, when in full flow was magnificent to watch. The things he could do with the ball boggled the mind. With only a short run-up to the crease and a whiplash of an action, he generated prodigious swing. He not only conquered an art form, but also thickened its horizons.
  9. Shane Bond: The fine art of swing bowling has always fascinated me. And nobody in recent times has performed it with such graceful aplomb as Shane Bond has. Boasting a fluid run-up and a classical action, Bond at his best could frighten with pace as well as swing.
  10. Daniel Vettori: Let’s make no mistake about this: Vettori is no Bedi. But in his pomp, he performed his skill with polish and precision. In recent times, his action has undergone much tweaking, a result largely of persistent back problems. But the younger Vettori, bowled classically, defeating batsmen both in flight and with turn.
  11. James Anderson: Anderson does not possess a fancifully elegant run-up or an action that can lure, but his ability to swing the new-ball has its own mesmerising charm. With a brand new Duke in his hand, in overcast conditions in England, he can provide the grace through the swing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Strength in Reserve

(Also posted at:

In what was an outstanding series (if one can call a two-test clash that) victory, the most encouraging sign for India was the strength of its batting reserve. For some time now, India has had a top-class batting line-up – Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir as openers, a combination of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman and Yuvraj Singh in the middle, and the might of wicketkeeper-batsman M.S. Dhoni to boot. But, a replacement for any one of these batsmen has never inspired much confidence. Yuvraj Singh has flirted in and out of the team, and for all his elegance, he lacks the so-called ‘Test Match temperament’. Although Yuvraj’s glittering talents should have seen him make his place permanent upon Ganguly’s retirement, through a combination of poor fitness and poorer attitude he has whittled his opportunities down.

Over the last few months, though, in spite of an apparent feeling that they may be ill-equipped to deal with the rigours of the longer format, India’s young batsmen have performed with aplomb. First, Suresh Raina, fashioned an excellently paced century on debut in Colombo and followed it up with half-centuries in his next two games. Second, Murali Vijay, who as a replacement for the injured Gautam Gambhir, combined fine grace with a tough disposition in conjuring up his maiden test-match hundred at Bangalore. And finally came, possibly, the most important act of reassurance. Cheteshwar Pujara on debut, promoted above Rahul Dravid, at one-drop, played a fabulous hand in India’s run chase and thereby showcased that he belongs at this stage.

Regardless of how irreplaceable Dravid is considered to be, there has been a need for India to find someone who can seamlessly takeover the crucial number three spot, when he decides to call time on his career. There is of course the option of promoting Laxman to his preferred spot, but his excellence in guiding the lower-order is too precious to be thrown away. Pujara, with heaps of runs in domestic cricket in his bag, demonstrated on a wearing final-day pitch that he has both the technique and the temperament to shine. No doubt, there will be far tougher tests to come, especially in the bouncier tracks of South Africa and Australia, and in swinging conditions in England, but the early signs are certainly promising.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

'Reckless Endangerment'

Also posted at (

Nigel de Jong on Hatem ben Arfa and Karl Henry on Jordi Gomez represent only the latest in what is a growing trend of utterly callous tackles in the Barclays Premier League. Worrying as it may be, the Premier League’s attitude towards such challenges hasn’t seen much of a shift. Football is no doubt a contact sport and the element of physicality mustn’t be stripped out of the game, but there is a line that should be drawn somewhere, that separates the acceptable from the condemnable.

The Guardian’s Richard Williams suggests a new regulation – ‘reckless endangerment’ as he calls it, which would be an ‘equivalent to the law against driving without care and attention, rigorously punished by dismissal to ensure offenders get the point’. Very often, we see footballers gesticulate to form their hands into the shape of the ball, as if to suggest that they made contact with the ball while tackling, or that they were seeking to get the ball, and therefore, that they shouldn’t be punished. This, Williams seeks to propose should not be a factor in determining the gravity of an offence. Regardless of whether the tackler intended to go for the ball or whether the tackler actually made contact with the ball, the referee must judge whether the tackler had taken due care and attention in ensuring that the opponent will not be periled.

De Jong, startlingly, wasn’t even accorded a yellow card for his tackle on ben Arfa. Surprisingly, in a career in which he could have received half a dozen red cards in the World Cup final alone, de Jong has only been dismissed once – in a UEFA cup match between Hamburg and Rapid Bucaresti. Bert van Marvijk – the Netherlands’ manager – thought the tackle on ben Arfa to be harsh enough to drop de Jong from the Dutch squad for the country’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Moldova and Sweden. Cynics, however, say that the action should have come much earlier and dropping de Jong for games against minnows, Moldova and a struggling Swedish side is likely to be of little consequence. That said: should it have been left to van Marvijk to take action, while the Premier League and the PFA let the incident run unpunished?

In the space of a few months, de Jong has broken both Bolton’s Stuart Holden’s and ben Arfa’s leg, while putting under threat nearly every opponent he came up against at the World Cup finals. Yet, Brian Kidd, Manchester City's Assistant Manager claims, ‘De Jong is not that kind of player’. Then, I wonder, what kind of a player he is? I am not suggesting that the Dutchman is the only one of an ilk, but, that inaction from authorities and referees alike is contributing to a growing recklessness amongst modern-day footballers.

The Premier League’s failure to act upon careless challenges even on the basis of concrete video evidence is only fuelling this mounting trend. Although, a referee may have seen a concerned incident, it may at times be difficult for the official to gauge the recklessness of the tackle, instantaneously. The authorities must therefore, step in under such circumstances to penalise the tackler with a ban and a fine, if need be, that will act as a strong deterrent. It makes little sense to let incidents pass unpunished on the basis of the referee having viewed the incident, and decided against taking penal action. Moreover, intention as Williams ever so rightly points out, is often tough to determine. The authorities must, hence, act on the basis of the recklessness of the tackle, regardless of the presence of an intention to injure, and accordingly determine the punishment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Charm of Golf

Also posted at

Who says golf is staid and boring? The Ryder Cup, held this year at the splendid Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, provided four days of utterly captivating, albeit intermittent, golf. The Cup, which pits U.S.A.’s best against Europe’s best every two years, was dragged to a fourth day for the first time in its feted history after rain had wreaked havoc on days one and three. Europe’s Graeme McDowell, the reigning U.S. Open champion, held his nerve to win the last singles tie – a must-win – against Hunter Mahan, to give his team a 14 ½ to 13 ½ victory, after the U.S.A. had rallied spectacularly on the final day. Although the rain, from time to time, threatened to washout the event, the action in itself remained riveting. There wasn’t a moment of monotony in the play, and although the U.S.A. can stake claim to having performed better in almost every round, Europe’s brilliance on day three in the foursomes and the fourballs ultimately proved the difference.

The comradeship between the Europeans, the charismatic leadership of Colin Montgomery – a Cup hero in his own right – Lee Westwood’s sturdy skills, the talent and the bravado of the youngsters – Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Rickie Fowler of the U.S.A. – the silken putting skills of U.S.A.’s Steve Stricker, and the sheer nerves of steel that Graeme McDowell showcased at the end, were all equally marvellous to watch. And adding to the allure of the Cup was the stunning setting at Celtic Manor.

But for all the irresistible charm of golf, and particularly the Ryder Cup, the question remains: can golf rightly be considered a sport? The International Olympic Committee certainly seems to think it can – having reinstated the event for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Many, though, believe that the absence of physical risk disentitles golf from being regarded as a sporting activity. Simon Barnes, former chief sports correspondent of the Times, has been openly loathsome of the ‘activity’ – as I’ll call it, at least, for the moment. He says: “Golf is what you do when you’re too old for sport and I wish every delight to every one who picks up a club. Just don’t start comparing it to, say, cricket, football, rugby, women’s gymnastics, figure-skating, athletics or three-day eventing.”

John Hopkins, Times’ golf correspondent, however, presents a contrary view. He says that a 59 year old man – in the instance cited, Tom Watson – can challenge Tiger Woods, owner of 14 Majors, for a championship is why “golf is a celebration, a reason for living, a reason for not putting the clubs up in the attic next to the water tank and, instead, for striding to the 1st tee with a heart full of hope”. He adds, “It is a celebration because golf is a sport that involves knowledge, experience, character, resolve, intestinal fortitude, perspicacity, phlegmatism, integrity, determination, obduracy. Oh yes, and skill”.

Going by the dictionary meaning, I don’t see how golf cannot be categorised as a sport. The Oxford Dictionary defines sport as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. The aspect of physical exertion in golf may not be as apparent as in other sports – it does not, for instance, involve any running – but an eighteen-hole round works a person’s shoulders and wrists to the hilt. And it most certainly fulfils the requirement of skill. As easy as it may seem on television, landing a ball on a fairway from 400 yards out or sinking a 16 inch putt on a treacherous green is no child’s play. Hell, it isn’t even easy on the Nintendo Wii, as I found out recently to my great horror. Add to that the aspect of entertainment – the narratives woven into a golfing contest are often thoroughly enthralling, as opposed to the popular opinion held by many of the game’s dull and dreary image. I am quite certain that a basic understanding of the rules and nuances of the game would dispel any notion of boredom and would help one to comprehend the stupendous skill and mental fortitude required to succeed at the game.

The Ryder Cup, no doubt, has the added dimension of being a team event, making it appealing even to those who only have a passing interest in the game. The tourney brings in other dynamics – captaincy, player pairings, varying formats, etc. – which make the narrative of the drama by itself a sheer thrill. But leaving the Ryder Cup as well as the aspect of skill aside, golf still has the capacity to throw up the most wonderful stories. Of course, much like any other sport, there can be some contests that are rather one-sided, like an easy straight sets victory in tennis for instance. But, if one finds excellence tedious, then, as Barnes himself has stated, sport is not what the person must look toward.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gandhi and Sport

(Also posted at: )

On the face of it, drawing a link between M.K. Gandhi and sport seems incongruous – so much so that the only picture that I could find linking Gandhi to sport was that of a look-alike participating in the Mumbai Marathon. There is little evidence of Gandhi having played any sport. In his autobiography there isn’t a word of mention of sport or its social relevance. Ramachandra Guha, in his book, ‘A corner of a foreign field,’ however, cites a 1958 article in which one of Gandhi’s school-mates from Rajkot is quoted as referring to Gandhi as ‘a dashing cricketer, who evinced a keen interest in the game as a school student’ and one who ‘was equally good at batting and bowling’. Yet, Gandhi’s interests, if any existed, had perished, certainly, by the time he returned to India from South Africa.

Guha in an article in the Hindu to mark Gandhi’s 132nd birth anniversary notes that, perhaps, the only seemingly direct role played by Gandhi in relation to cricket in India concerned the Bombay Quadrangular – an annual tournament comprising four teams – the Hindus, the Muslims, the Parsees and the Europeans. In the months leading up to the 1920 Quadrangular, Gandhi’s campaign against untouchability provided steam to the cause of three Dalit brothers – Baloo, Vithal and Shivram Palwankar. After Baloo, a hugely talented left-arm spinner was dropped from the Hindu Eleven named for their game against the Muslim Eleven, his brothers withdrew in protest. In spite of Gandhi’s movement to have the brothers reinstated in the team, the game against the Muslims was played without the Palwankars, who were however, restored in the team that played the Parsees in the next match.

The competition, halted during the Civil Disobedience Movement, resumed in 1934, and was soon converted into a pentangular, with the inclusion of the ‘Rest’ team that contained Jains and Buddhists amongst players of other religions. However, by then the tournament took place only in fits and starts, coming under the constant cosh of nationalists, who argued that if Muslims had the right to field a separate team, it would only validate their demands for a separate nation.

Gandhi is quoted as saying: “my sympathies (were) wholly with those who would like to see these matches stopped. The sporting public of Bombay should revise their sporting code and must erase from it communal matches. I can understand matches between Colleges and Institutions, but I have never understood the reason for having Hindu, Parsi, Muslim and other communal Elevens. I should have thought that such unsportsmanlike divisions would be considered taboo in sporting language and sporting manners.”

Viewed in this context, I can only imagine that Gandhi would have been pleased with the composition of the Indian cricket team, post-independence. Cricket has since the days of the Bombay Pentangular, mostly been spared the ills of communalism. India has had three Muslim captains – Ghulam Ahmed, M.A.K. Pataudi and Mohammad Azharuddin – apart from being captained, by Parsees (Polly Umrigar and Nari Contractor), Christians (Vijay Hazare and Chandu Borde) and a Sikh (Bishen Singh Bedi). Rising communalism since the 1980s has also had little, if any, impact on the sport. The team has continued to field an amalgam of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, and has been as secular a grouping as one can hope to see. This obvious lack of communalism in Indian cricket only makes one wonder why Gandhi failed to see sport as a means of engineering social change.

Sport has often been used as a tool of social revolution by leaders as far-ranging as Adolf Hitler and Nelson Mandela. While Hitler sought to promote his belief of racial superiority by allowing only Aryans to be fielded in German teams competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Mandela sought to bring about racial-unity by supporting the Springboks – the South African rugby team that largely comprised Whites – in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, held in his country.

A blog on however, notes Gandhi to have been a ‘huge football aficionado,’ and to have used ‘the game to promote his political philosophy of non-violent resistance and to socially uplift and integrate the Indian community in the Rainbow Republic.” He is reported to have started two football clubs, one each in Johannesburg and Pretoria, with both being named as the ‘Passive Resisters.’ The clubs’ activities, though, declined with the return of Gandhi to India and they were wound-up by 1936. Gandhi could have therefore, been one of the first leaders to have sought to use sport to craft a change in society. He may not have seen sport as a definite means of bringing forth a transformation in Indian society, but his thinking and philosophy is as relevant to sport as it is to any other sphere of activity, especially in a day and age where sport and sleaze seem closer than ever before.