Cricket has ruled the country’s sporting arena for a long time now. But football is now orbiting the City with more fans coming out and showing their love for the sport. Bengalureans are not just sitting back and watching the ‘battle between the masses’ on the small screens. They are taking part in these battles as the City is providing them more opportunities to connect to their favourite sport.
Football is racing fast ahead and there are a number of indoor studios and play arenas here now. Sports firms like ‘XLR8’, ‘Play Arena’...are renting out football arenas for the crazy fans of the sport. In a City that has a lot of cricket stadiums, these play arenas have become a boon to the zealous football lovers. ‘XLR8’ on Hennur Road provides scope for tournaments with playing kits, referees and also furnished statistics of the entire tournament of football along with some other sports.
“We offer indoor cricket, indoor football, throwball, volleyball....But we get more bookings for football, both on weekdays and weekends. The players have to be in appropriate sports gear and adhere to the timings of the game. We charge Rs 1,500 on the weekdays and Rs 2,000 on the weekends,” says Cetric Joe, Manager of ‘XLR8’.
Another firm that rents out fields for this sport is ‘Play Arena’ on Sarjapur Road. Anirudh of Play Arena says, “One has to book months in advance to get the football arena here. Our football fields are open till 2 am, but still they are crowded. We sometimes divide the arena into two halves and also convert the cricket arena to football as there is an increased demand for football grounds. We charge the players depending on the size of the field. Our regulars here can play till 2 am and they enjoy it.”
Football enthusiasts feel that these studios are a blessing. “I go almost every alternate day to these arenas. They have full-fledged facilities with well-versed grounds. You get that real feel while you play the game,” says Vendanth, a football enthusiast. He adds, “Football is now being given importance in the City and there should be more encouragement provided to football-lovers. The government should invest more and promote this sport.”
Another football-lover, Satvik Loganathan says, “I go thrice a week to play football. We have a group on WhatsApp and we plan the tournaments and go play in these arenas. They are an asset to football-lovers.” What about the cost effectiveness of these places? He says, “They charge depending on the quality of the turf. There are places that charge just Rs 600 per hour. They are pretty cheap but the quality of the turf in their fields is not that great. But the places that charge around Rs 1,500 per hour have very well polished grounds with expensive turfs that can make for a perfect game.”
There are also a bunch of IT employees who lose themselves in this 90-minute-game at these arenas, wraps up Satvik.