For people rooted in the study of sport and its origins, culture remains an integral part, an essential component. It is the powerful force that inspires children to play, adults to take families to football games and watch them together on TV. Novy Kapadia was more than a historian, his contribution greater than mere documentation or his commentary work; his role has transcended all of his contributions to the Indian game by single-handedly keeping the fans’ passion alive for more than five decades in the sport. Novy was the culture of Indian football in its entirety, the relentless pursuit of one man to spread the gospel of the beauty and pitfalls of Indian football.
PURE LOVE FOR THE GAME
In an era when local gaming chronicles were nascent and perhaps waning, its contribution through years of magazines, shows, newspapers and websites is unprecedented. He was editor-in-chief of the Durand newspaper for many years and gave voice to matches in the I-League and its predecessor, the National Football League (NFL).
What is perhaps less well known is his love of the sport up close. Ambedkar Stadium was his second home and he would ask for the line-up and study it in great detail, regardless of the stature of the match.
He also conveyed the importance of watching sports up close to all of the capital’s aspiring sports writers, including this author. He was the most accessible person in Indian sports circles, as he responded to a Facebook message as easily as he did to a WhatsApp SMS.
Even through all the hollows Indian football has gone through, Novy has never been cynical. He spoke of the game with great poise and tone and was unfazed at the microphone. Harsha Bhogle’s tweet mentioned that he was « a sports fan of the highest purity ». His love for the game transcended any administrative policy or field results. He was there for the sport and the listeners were there to testify to his boundless dedication.
Novy Kapadia loved all sports, but football was part of him. You could see the joy reflected on him when he talked about football; in any case with Novy joy and happiness were seldom far away. Few people have given as much to his profession as Novy has. A sports fan of the utmost purity. – Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) November 18, 2021
Those who know him closely will remember his fondness for all sports, be it tennis, cricket or otherwise. His work on mega-events such as the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games spanning more than three decades also remains unmatched.
He was also a showcase for many Indians who began to follow the world game in the 1980s. The FIFA World Cup was incomplete in India without his voice as they brought events to life on the pitch. He would voraciously consume football and speak as easily of the English or Italian leagues as he does of the Delhi State League. You didn’t have to know Novy to guess he had voluminous ratings on every game he intended to comment on.
It was his sister, the late Bunny Page, who brought the book « The Ashes Crown the Year by Jack Fingleton » which « instilled in him a lifelong passion for reading all kinds of sports. »
The first sports book Novy received as a gift was « The Ashes Crown the Year » by Jack Fingleton. His sister Bunny bought it for him on his first paycheck. She passed away in 2016 and he set out to write the book Barefoot to Boots to overcome the grief of her death. pic.twitter.com/eDRFV9q7f9– Indranath Mukherjee (@indranath) November 18, 2021
A colossus of sports knowledge; a mountainous library of match and match data – a treasure house capable of simplifying information and communicating effectively for viewers and listeners; that’s who Novy Kapadia was.
WHERE IS INDIAN FOOTBALL GOING FROM HERE?
Journalist, player, staff, officials, administrators, referees, operating staff – Among the thousands of people employed by Indian football, it is rare to say that Novy has not touched the lives of these people. For most of them, including yours, their first interaction with the local game was through the Novy media.
One could even suggest with insolence that one should live under a rock and yet follow Indian football without having heard of Novy Kapadia. The voice, yes, but maybe he was the ubiquitous keeper of local football, Mr. Live-and-Breathe of Indian football himself.
His book, Barefoot to Boots, is just a summary of his life’s work; his knowledge of Indian football exceeded any articles and comments he had ever made. You had to sit down with Novy to understand the depth of knowledge he had about Indian football. A listener only had to push him and be curious, as the author has done on several occasions, and Novy, no matter how mundane the question was, would always treat it with care and respond as he did. , no doubt to his English literature students at the Khalsa of the University of Delhi. University.
Before the age of Indian football data on websites, it was Novy Kapadia who put the player’s stories and background forward. For those who had started watching the Indian game before the Euro, Novy was India’s “Peter Drury” and more.
ALWAYS HAPPY TO HELP
It is his zeal for football and his helping to improve the local game and his understanding among the common people that has been a major reason that Indian football did not disappear completely from the map in its dark times.
For a man who had seen the pinnacle of Indian football in the situation he finds himself in today, Kapadia may have easily lost his illusions. Yet he has maintained his commitment to be a part of every advisory committee, ad hoc body and gathering of Indian football thinkers he has been invited to.
He always had time to help and respond, no matter what the problem, and he did it, without even hesitation. In the press box, you would address him if you had trouble understanding a particular topic, and Novy could present an instant thesis.
This loss is immeasurable for the Indian sports world.
Novy Kapadia was a giant of several eras; he was the real father and the voice of modern Indian football.
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