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Soccer mania!

By Bhavna Khullar | Last Updated: Monday, June 28, 2010 - 12:16
 
Bhavna Khullar
Grapevine
 

Before this, Delhi was always more of a Cricket city to me. I thought Football just had a niche market here, until the frenzied passion for the FIFA World Cup took over the noisy sports bars of the capital, which look even more enthusiastic than the IPL times. But I’m so used to hooting for Sachin and Ganguly, that it’s difficult to pretend to be as zealous about Rooney or Messi. So, it’s got to be genuine if it’s there!

I’m used to lounging at noisy sports bars during cricket extravaganzas, but I have never seen my folks discuss soccer the way they’re doing these days. This year’s World Cup soccer seems to have become very successful, based simply on the interest it has generated even within people like me, who haven’t been among the avid followers of the game in the past.

I thought it wasn’t a common feeling until I discovered others too who are undergoing a similar change of sorts as far as their passion for the game is concerned. Before this, I never thought I would sacrifice my sleep late night for soccer; especially when it completely lacks the Indian touch and feel. I would be least interested when my friends would talk about Wayne Rooney or Maradona before this.

As the World Cup action kicked off, one of my friends, who’s an absolute soccer enthusiast, tried to educate me on which team I should be supporting. From jerseys to players to the game – I was briefed about almost everything important or even not so important. Then, as he’s supporting and promoting England, I absently nodded my head in what appeared like semi-agreement; but then I thought I must do something different to put up a good fight here. Had discussed a lot about Messi’s charm with my girl pals (wink)…so that didn’t look like a bad deal at all…therefore, it’s Argentina.

Now, this gung ho feeling is perhaps getting me plunged headlong into discussing football the whole day and watching it at night.

I would say that the Football fever has managed to win over our cricket-crazy nation, for sure. It was shocking to hear that the ongoing Asia Cup in Sri Lanka has been struggling to draw viewers while the FIFA World Cup continues to charm fans and garner more eyeballs. Read somewhere that even ‘THE’ match of the tournament, India vs Pakistan, only managed to do marginally better than first round football matches recently.

Wonder if too much cricket is responsible for the current status of the game. Changing my loyalties from cricket to anything was just so unlikely to happen, but guess it’s really happening.

These days, I see people changing their schedules and becoming flexible to accommodate their soccer mania and urge to watch matches. And surprisingly, I’m one of them!

First Published: Monday, June 28, 2010 - 12:16

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