Clearly in a league of their own

Clearly in a league of their own

Clearly in a league of their own

In a nation crazy about cricket, no one would have imagined that football would generate so much frenzy. But thanks to a fantastic performance by the Bengaluru FC (BFC) at the I-League, which ultimately let to its victory, those days are here. Well, almost! The team got a hero’s welcome when it came home and was taken around in a grand procession in the heart of the City.

With the IPL going on in full swing, the BFC managed to hold its own and it would not be wrong to say that cricket is getting a little competition from the humble football. Metrolife speaks to fans and professionals about BFC’s performance, the craze for football in the City now and what lies ahead.

A fan who attended most of the BFC’s matches both in Bangalore and outside, Vikas Kumar says a victory like this is rare. “It’s something that you don’t really see everyday. Especially when clubs sponsor your trip to a game held outside the city,” says the professional who went for the final game and saw BFC lift the crown. “Initially, only a few of the matches would be telecast on TV. But now, things are different,” he adds.

Jason D’Souza, an event organiser, feels the I-League followed many traditions that are followed by the European Premier League. “For instance, when the BFC won, there was an open bus parade. Then at the stadium, the spectators were given a pamphlet with a message from the manager and captain. It also had information about the players and their numbers so fans could get an idea about which player was on the field,” he notes. “Though it’s been a great tournament, the I-League needs to get more prominence on TV. It will take time. It’s not something that happens overnight,” he adds.

Reo Raymond, who hosted the matches and is working on his own show called ‘Footifever’, was delighted at the win. “We have always dreamt of coming close to the European clubs. And to see BFC having that kind of a support was amazing. I never thought a football club from Bangalore will have fans travelling across states,” he exclaims. “Football has not been forgotten but just ignored. I have played football in Manchester and we have as much talent as any other country.

The only problem is we always go wrong in the next step. The players are brilliant but there is a lack of support and finances,” he adds. “But now, I see a great future for the game. We will even be hosting the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017and hosting a World Cup is huge,” he says.

Alwin Lawrence, a football analyst with the BFC, works and travels with the squad and feels that the “foundation is laid and the only way from here is up”. “In Bangalore, the craze for football has surely gone up. Earlier, everyone would follow the European Premier League and Spanish Premier League,” he notes.

“The crowd here has been incredible with people of all ages following the sport. Its popularity has skyrocketed and it’s been a paradigm shift. Next year, there will be immense competition. In fact, with better competition and better performance, there will be more followers. After all, everyone likes to follow winners,” he sums up.