Reviving the interest in football

Changing game

Reviving the interest  in football

The Bangalore Football stadium may probably never be able to attract the number of people that Chinnaswamy Stadium can during a cricket match. But it is evident that the formation of the ‘Bengaluru Football Club’ means a lot to the City’s many football enthusiasts.

“I’ve read that the club has bought some of the best players that the country has like Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh as strikers and some other great mid-fielders. These guys represent the country and now are all together in a club. It’s exciting and I think I might even go watch a game when it happens. I would never have imagined considering even talking about Bangalore football teams earlier. I also saw that it’s created a mad frenzy on Facebook and already has a lot of followers,” says Sujay Umapathy, who plays football at XLR8 in Hennur and 18th Cross Malleswaram Grounds. 

“I’m sure people will start watching the game with more interest now. Bangalore is never recognised as a city that is enthusiastic about its football. It’s always Kolkata or Goa. Maybe this club can put Bangalore on the map for football instead of the IT industry,” he adds. Amit Chacko Thomas of ‘Game On Sports’, a sports agency, feels that football is already ingrained in the new generation, which has grown up watching popular foreign leagues and idolising the Messis and Ronaldos. “If the launch is an indication of things to come, the new club will certainly arouse the interest of all football lovers in the City. The challenge would lie in connecting and engaging with the fans and being able to reasonably meet their expectations, which are already high with exposure to I-League and foreign clubs,” says Amit.

“The presence of a star like Sunil Chhetri will certainly give them the initial push to build a fan following. Activities to create and connect with potential fans through community initiatives and school programmes will play an important part in creating a fan base apart from the field performance,” he adds.

What he also sees is more enthusiasts taking up professional football.
“Today’s parents and children are no longer attached to stereotypes like being a doctor or an engineer. If the club promotes local talent and some of these
go on to be recognisable faces, it would definitely give an impetus to take it up professionally. More people will take it up if professional football in India grows and youngsters see it as a prospective career choice,” he reasons.

Karthik Bharadwaj, who played state-level football and was the captain of the
Bangalore University team, agrees with this viewpoint.

“There are several state associations which have sanctioned a considerable amount of money to improve and promote football. It’s a big investment to sign on these players and it will give an I-League flavour to football here. Unlike in cities known for football, we don’t have a football academy and that’s something which should soon come up. The existence of the club will help create a renewed interest in the game,” he concludes.

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