Bahrain has successfuly hosted the formula 1 for the second time. Congratulations Bahrain, and Congratulations to Alonso for coming in pole position.
On the other hand, our national team just lost to Japan 1-0. Hard luck Bahrain.
I then look at the Formula 1 track we have and at the football "pitches" (more like pits) we have, and all I can think is, "Surely this is a really big horrible joke."
Surely I'm not the only one who's noticed this? We fork out around $200 million bucks to build an out of space motorsport track, and we don't even have ONE decent natural grass pitch?
We've been playing on horrible artificial pitch for the last 3 years, while our neighbours are building these ambitious projects. Surely, surely, we can afford to build a decent 20,000 seater stadium that actually has some grass on it? Surely we could have used the millions that were spent on the events like the Gulf opening ceremoney and the mahrajanat to build a respectable stadium? I'm not talking about a state of the art thing here, just a decent stadium with grass on the pitch!
Go all around Bahrain (which won't take you long), and you'll see people using every single space available to play football. Barefoot, in an asphalt carpark , with sandals as makeshift goalposts, kicking a ragged object barely resembling a football. That's the beauty of football. You don't need a $120 million hi-tech car that fails every other race. You don't a team of engineers, tirechangers, and technicians to take part. Anyone can become a football star, as is shown by our players time and again who've come from humble backgrounds to be recognized all around Asia. You don't need to have a wadlod of cash, have the right connections, and come from the right family as you do just to drive even in a formula 3 race.
And that is why people all around the world love football. You don't need to be a millionaire to play. Everyone, as long as he's got feet and something to kick (doesn't even need to a ball) can take part. That's why you find genuine passion and admiration for football in Bahrain that has lasted more than a seventy years, not a fleeting interest just because a fad has just dropped in the country.
What is this warped logic that we're too stingy to spend even $10 million to build a mediocre football stadium when people in Bahrain know who even Luis Garcia is, while we're happy to fork out 20 times that when most people don't even know who Raikonnen is? How is it that our number 1 sport gets so neglected, while a sport where we don't even have one driver in becomes the stated goal of the country? How is it that a sport that caters mainly to a tiny elite of the rich that can dish out $200 bucks for a ticket is given priority to a sport that is loved and eagerly followed by all segments of society? There are men and women, old and young, poor and rich that discuss football. I even saw a 70 year old granny chucking sunseeds in her mouth while cursing the players on TV? How many times have you had a conversation with a granny regarding the new hydraulic engine on the Ferrari car. How many times have you sat and discussed in details Button's future with BAR with a taxi driver? How many people, outside of the small segment of society that closely follows formula 1, know who the heck Button even is?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the formula 1, but when football is pushed aside simply to satisfy the whims and grandiose plans of a few tope people then rational arguments go out of the window. Next thing I know one of our influential Hamours will have a keen interest in curling, and we will build the best ever state-of-the-art $1 billion curling stadium. Look at when the Bahraini football national team play in Bahrain. Even though they have African stadards for facilities the WHOLE of Bahrain jampacks the national stadium. You can't find an empty seat. And this is when we play teams like Iran. On the other hand, you bring the most prestigious motorsport event in the world to Bahrain, and thousands of tickets have to be given away to students for free just to avoid the embarassment of a half empty formula 1.
Notice here I'm talking about the fomula 1, and not drag racing or other events. I can see someone now going, "but Bahrainis are crazy about cars. They love to drag race!" Yes, that's it. They love to drag race and to be interested in cars. You don't need to build a $200 million track race that is completely unprofitable for drag races. It is pretty ironic that drag racing events on the circuit are jampacked while the formula 1 itself struggles with half capacity.
But what about the exposure Bahrain got? What about the publicity. I'll give you a sure fire way to gain publicity way more than the formula 1 ever brought. Take a tenth of the 200 million that was spent, and spend it on building decent pitches and training facilities for the football National team, which has shown, although it has zilch for financial and infrastructure support, that it can compete with the best of asia, showing beyond doubt that it is in the top five teams in the continent against teams that have infinitely more resources. Help them get to the world cup, which they have shown that they can strive to do even through the immense difficulties they face. And then, when Bahrain's name is in the world cup, for all the world to see, being the smallest nation in size and population ever to qualify for the world cup, the world would have real respect for Bahrain. People would think that they got there by their own feet and hardwork, not by forking out millions of oil dollars to bribe the FIA and to bring down expatriates from the subcontinent to build a track for us.
Anyway, my incoherent rant is over. Good luck to our football national team and to our formula 1 in the future.