Postcard PS - a whole new ball game for India ?
So if I were to ask you which is the largest capacity sporting venue in India?
It'll be a cricket ground , of course ? So which is it ?
Well, Eden Park in Kolkota is the largest cricket ground in India - but its not even the largest sports stadium in Kolkota.
The largest ground ( in India - and in Kolkota) is the Salt Lake Stadium which has a capacity of 120,000 ( Eden Park is 100,000).
And what game do they play at the Salt Lake Stadium - well actually . . . football.
You don't ever get much beyond cricket when you think of India and team games - but in the eastern states of India - and in Kolkota in particular, football has always been massive.
(To digress for a moment, it's just occured to me that despite our pride in having invented football - especially whenever FIFA and/or Sepp Blatter are seen to get above themselves - if you consider those vast tracts of land that even in my early schooldays were still coloured pink - Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India itself - we had very old maps - in none of them has footy having really taken root. Reason being I suppose that the sound fellows sent out to administer such spots from Blighty were from those schools where rugger and cricket were the order of the day - and just look at the sporting consequences. Well done, you chaps ! Makes you wonder about Canada though. Maybe the types who were sent out there always had had a note from their mum excusing them from games at school ?)
The true status of football in India was brought to my attention when I was in Dehli recently ( at precisely the same time as in the one-day international cricket series the natural order of things was cruelly being restored) and I got the chance to visit the home of the Indian Youth Soccer Association and met its chairman, the energetic and committed Arup Das.
Arup is from Calcutta so had soccer in his blood and tells me he has always followed the English game closely on BBC World Service and now TV.
I ask him where his premiership loyalties lie and my face must have fallen as he came back with Manchester United . He then tells me that his father had been a student in Manchester in the late fifties just as Sir Matt Busby was crafting his wonder sides in the aftermath of Munich where he caught and passed on the bug so he is excused ( though I can half mishear Roy Keene gripping about the fans who only come for the samosas . .. )
lYSA has kept the soccer flag aloft in Delhi for a decade or so. It currently runs a programme with Government support which is directed a children from low income families who study in Government schools.
All of this is not without its hiccups. The ground that the Association use was taken back by the Government in the run up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games when much of the suitable green space in the City was needed.
When it was returned earlier this year it was bald and bare and had to be reseeded to make it suitable as a playing and training surface.
The free programmes it now offers attract some 150 young people aged between 8 and 15 for intensive coaching every week and the opportunity to compete in an internal league.
Football in India is in fact spreading quickly beyond the traditional heartland in and around Calcutta.
Nearly half of the population described themselves as soccer fans in a recent survey; football is third in terms of TV audiences - and the Premier League is a huge draw.
The game seems to have a particular appeal among the much vaunted growing new middle class. And as a result English - and other European - clubs are looking to exploit the commercial opportunities.
Some are looking beyond the purely financial element. Liverpool ( who do have a commercial tie in with an Indian corporate) are directly engaged via their Foundation in football development work in Mumbai; Arsenal are believed to considering sending trainee coaches to India as part of their development and others top clubs may have similar intentions.
For Arup Nas and the IYSA some connection through coaching support with a Premier League club here would be a tremendous boost - and a sponsor club would gain a toehold in one of football's fast growing market places. With clubs like Villa and Birmingham City each having their grounds surrounded by people whose heritage drawn from the sub continent there's a huge opportunity surely to be built on.