On Planet Football

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FOOTBALL GIVES THEM A KICK Fans glued to the television on the terrace of a residence in Vyasarpadi
FOOTBALL GIVES THEM A KICK Fans glued to the television on the terrace of a residence in Vyasarpadi

Football fever has gripped the city and fans of the game don't want to miss any of the excitement

Right now, we live in a simple world, with two simple categories of people. Those hooked to the bizarre geometrics of a moving football and those (a small minority) who go all out to make sure they aren't. For the former, the latter's views are sheer blasphemy, while the non-watchers smirk at the fans' complete lack of rationality. Either way, (unless of course, you live in Mars), there is no escape from Planet Football.Chennai is no different from the other parts of the planet in following the World Cup. But, unlike the 2002 Korea-Japan edition, this year demands a bleary-eyed existence, thanks to the late-night matches snatching away one of the supreme pleasures of life, sleep. But try telling that to 21-year-old Tamilarasan, a visual-effects student of ICAT. "I don't mind staying up however late, to watch Brazil play. They are the best team," he said.Obviously, the hangover-like existence is barely a matter of concern for the football freaks who prefer looking at the positives of the timing. "I normally watch the matches at home with my younger brother and parents. Since all the matches are in the evenings, all the matches are at office-friendly hours. Everybody can see the matches," said 29-year-old T. K. Sriram, who is working in a finance company. For most people, the magic of football is synonymous with the allure of the movement of the yellow jerseys. It's mostly about Brazil. "The best thing about the World Cup is watching the top players in football. Players like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos are my favourites," said 21-year-old N. Naveedh, a visual-effects student of ICAT. C. Nitin, working for Cognizant Technology Solutions, brings the heart and mind equation into his predictions. "My heart says Brazil while mind says England. At least for the sake of David Beckham (this might be his last World Cup), I want England to win."While most women either shun the game or prefer observing the men who play it, there are some refreshing exceptions like 24-year-old Poorani Balasubramaniam, who works for IPAN. "The World Cup totally deserves all the hype it's getting. It's the biggest sporting event in the world, and the best thing about it is the drama involved. I will watch out for players like Ronaldinho, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Drogba," says Poorani.Besides the hard-core football fans, a lot of women are pulled into watching the game thanks to the enthusiasm shown by their husbands and sons. "My son, studying in Standard XI, and my husband and in-laws watch the matches. We observe strict timing at home. During weekdays, we see matches till 10.30 p.m. In between I also join them. Their enthusiasm has rubbed off on me," said Usha Ravindran who is a branch manager of Indian Bank.One major effect of the football fever is the urgency shown by school kids in completing mundane matters like solving the mysteries of mathematics, before sunset (read kick-off time). "I try my best to finish my homework as soon as possible so I can watch the matches. If Brazil is playing, then I am prepared to stay up to watch them," said 13-year-old Abhishek Ravishanker of P.S. Senior Secondary School.The largely ignored minority that doesn't follow the sport continues with an eyebrows-raised existence. "I just don't understand what the fuss is all about. People are going crazy," said 40-year-old G. Shalini, a homemaker.Ashwin Kumar, working for American Express Bank, might have an answer. "Football has a lot of energy. The fact that World Cup happens once in four years is all the more reason for people to watch it keenly. The magic of the sport is such that even for a small country like Trinidad and Tobago, there is so much support," he said.The magic has just begun, and it doesn't look like it's fading. At least not till July 9, when the football kings will be crowned.NANDITA SRIDHAR &




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