The city that introduced football to the country is bracing up in style for a month-long date with FIFA World Cup. Kolkata’s passion for football has earned it the moniker ‘Mecca of Indian football’ and that is verily embodied in the fervent support the quadrennial event generates every time it is held.
It is no wonder that the Latin American giants like Brazil and Argentina get most of the support owing much to their socio-economic similarity with the city. The lanes and by-lanes around the city are adorned with the flags and posters of the favourite teams and players. One would mistake it with the streets of Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires as the biggest spectacle of football on earth splits the city into pockets of partisan support.
The shop owners at B.C. Roy Market - popularly known as the Maidan Market for its proximity to the clubs and sports associations in the city – had a trying time arranging for a big demand for jerseys for countries like Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Holland. The social and sports clubs at different parts of the city have started a virtual contest about who could best depict the support for their favourite team.
“Like every other World Cup there will be a new hero who will capture the imagination of the world with his flair and creativity. The tournament sees the best of football and we try to get the best of it sitting here with our friends and family,” says Bhaskar Ganguly, former India captain. “I see people all around trying to make the best arrangement to have a good view of their favourite stars in action. This tells about the passion we have about the sport,” the captain of the 1982 Asian Games football teams says. Mr. Ganguly was one of the speakers along side other international stars like Shyam Thapa and Surojit Sengupta, who discussed many aspects of the World Cup in a seminar arranged by East Bengal club.
Apart from the flags and posters, many clubs have ordered for life-size replicas of their football stars like Brazil’s Neymar, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and also of the World Cup trophy.
The replicas are kept at the best location and decked with garlands, which have come from the fans showing their obeisance. The restaurants are bracing for a long haul offering big screen view and special menus as the most of the matches are scheduled well past midnight. The next 30 days starting on Thursday will galvanise the whole city in a unique celebration of football, which will be more of an echo of the roar that will emerge from the different venues in Brazil.