Revered widely as an authority on Indian football, veteran commentator and former Delhi University professor, Novy Kapadia, passed away on 18th November, 2021, at the age of 67, after a prolonged illness. He is not survived by any immediate family member after the death of his sister. The eminent football expert and author had covered nine FIFA World Cups. He was involved in commentary for decades, even beyond football, having been part of the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and other multi-sport events.
Known for his soft-spoken nature, Novy Kapadia had been on the ventilator over the last month; he had been suffering from a motor neurone disease, a rare condition that causes the nerves in the spine and brain to lose function over time. Rendered immobile because of the condition, he was confined to his house for the last two years. Kapadia was left bed-ridden for the last couple of years and was most recently in the news due to issues with his pension, prompting former Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to intervene and provide a financial aid of Rs 4 lakh.
Kapadia, who founded the Ashoka Club and played active football in the local league, was held in high esteem by the players, officials, scribes and everyone else associated with Indian football and beyond. He was sought after for his knowledge and experience in the sport and it is encapsulated in his seminal book, ‘Barefoot To Boots, The Many Lives Of Indian Football’. He also authored ‘The Football Fanatic’s Essential Guide Book’, in 2014.
Besides his involvement in sports, Kapadia was a former professor at SGTB Khalsa College, Delhi University. He was Deputy Proctor of the university from 2003-2010. The Indian football fraternity was distressed by the news of the passing of Kapadia, who was often referred to as the ‘voice of Indian football’. Top clubs including Bengaluru FC, ATK Mohun Bagan, Football Delhi and Kerala Blasters expressed their shock and sadness, calling it a massive loss for Indian football.
“We are saddened by the demise of Novy Kapadia, eminent journalist, commentator, and football pundit. May his contribution shine through everyone he has touched through his coverage of Indian Football,” the All India Football Federation tweeted.
Extolling Kapadia’s achievements and commitment to the game, Football Delhi President, Shaji Prabhakaran, said, “Novy Kapadia made an unparallel contribution to football in Delhi, he represented Delhi State Team in the Junior National Championship and played in the Delhi league for many years… Novy was a legend in many respects, his passion and dedication for football can’t be expressed in words. Indian football has lost a legend, who was married to football and his connection with football was very deep rooted… I haven’t come across a second person in Indian football who commanded such an authority and respect. Novy was our inspiration, his writing, commenting, expert opinions, etc were greatly inspiring to each of us in Indian football. His departure is a big loss for Delhi football in particular.” In Kapadia’s memory, Football Delhi will hold a prayer meeting at the Ambedkar Stadium on Monday, 22nd November, 2021.