Gowthampura welcomes WC with a giant ball, hairdo

A football fan in Gowthampura gives finishing touches to the settings in the neighbourhood ahead of the World Cup on Wednesday. DH Photo

The city's soccer buffs frequenting Gowthampura are in for a surprise this World Cup season.

Dubbed 'Mini Brazil', the neighbourhood will have a mini statue of Argentinian Lionel Messi along with the idol of Brazilian star Neymar. The new installations would stand alongside the statues of the iconic Pele, Mother Teresa and Dr B R Ambedkar.

While they had no problems with the other figures, Messi's induction into the veritable soccer sanctum has raised a few eyebrows.

Fans, however, clarify that the inclusion of the Argentinian star is only to highlight that he is a player to watch out for in the forthcoming tournament and by no means a desertion of their favourite nation.

"Messi is a tremendous player and we are just admiring his work this time," said Anthony Das, a resident of Gowthampura, who is in charge of all the arrangements.

An 8x8 feet football in the familiar yellow-green of Brazil dominates the neighbourhood. The giant soccer ball is marked with the emblem of Gowtham's Football Club. The place is also festooned with the eye-mask Brazilians wear during the carnival, dispelling any doubts regarding their loyalties.

Mohawk's the trend

This time, young soccer players in the neighbourhood also sport the mohawk hairstyle — an almost complete shaving of the hair around the head except for the top of the scalp. The hairstyle is seen commonly among schoolgoers to late teens practicing football.

"They prefer a variant of the same hairstyle, which costs Rs 100," said a local hairstylist.

C Ravikumar, who played soccer at the national level, said the neighbourhood never makes its soccer adoration a secret. "It is almost like an everyday worship," he said. "The beginning of the Football World Cup has only added to the excitement," he said.

Soccer players and fans in the neighbourhood love Brazil because their style of playing is similar to India, Ravikumar explained, adding that giant screens would tower over Gowthampura from June 18 to let everyone watch football.

The area's football obsession could be traced back to the colonial times. It still brags about S A Basheer, a member of the 'barefoot squad' of the 1948 Olympics, who hailed from this tiny neighbourhood next to Halasuru.

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