This is in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symbol.”
It began in 2007. Ironically, it was when Arsenal’s winning streak had just ended and they had begun to face a drought of trophies. Every year, I watched them win some games, lose important games and finish the season without any silverware. Yet, I kept supporting them. With every loss, somehow, my support got stronger. Now they’re out there, with two FA Cups in a row and looking quite formidable in the EPL. I can only hope I witness my first EPL win as an Arsenal supporter this season.
This symbol has taught me the art of consistency more than anything. It’s not just a symbol. To me, it’s a forever-long relationship. Go Gunners!
Since listicles, as they are called, are so popular these days, I thought I’ll write one of them. Trust me, I didn’t know they are called listicles either. Sounds creepy. Anyway, that’s besides the point. I know none of you are probably reading this, and are most likely to just skim through the headline of all the points, which is what I usually do with listicles.
Getting to the point, I have been watching football for around five years now. I support Arsenal. Strangely enough, I never knew about Arsenal (or EPL or football) during The Invincibles’ era. I began following football in around 2008/2009, and I don’t even remember why. But over the years, following Arsenal’s games has moulded me into an ardent follower of the team and its ethics, and now I’m a fan of the game itself. I’m not forcing girls to follow football. Just merely putting down the plus points. They’re just my thoughts, so don’t start an argument at the end of it. Peace. : )
Here are 8 reasons why girls must follow football. (I’m writing from personal experience)
1. You stand out among your girlfriends: From what I have seen, girls seldom follow football. In India, I mean. (If you’re Dutch or something, this listicle isn’t for you). But in India, there are movies like Bend It Like Beckham, where a girl playing football has been glorified so much! That’s how rare it is. You’ll stand out among all your girlfriends for that reason alone. When you’re low, feeling like you’re a nobody, this will probably make you realise how different you are from the rest and it’ll make you feel important.
2. You can chill with guys easily, if you have to: A couple of days ago, one of my friends, Bird, certified me as a “bro.” It was during a casual conversation we were having with two other friends, Rahul and Guntoo. He said, “Dude she plays football. She’s a bro.” Well, I liked being called a bro. It’s like being in the inner circle. Not saying I want to be a guy. I like being a girl and I love my girlfriends. But sometimes, it’s nice to be in the loop when guys are discussing football and Fantasy Premier League all the time and you can contribute instead of staying mute, or instead of being made to hang out with some other guy’s girlfriend simply because apparently “girls can’t talk football.”
3. Your weekends are made (and for cheap): I think most people like to hangout at pubs or cafes on weekends, and that can be an expensive affair! If you’re a football follower, however, it’s the opposite. You tend to ensure that there are no meetings when you have to watch your team’s game. If my friends call me out for a drink on a Saturday evening, or if my parents call me to visit someone, the first thing I do is check Arsenal’s schedule. If it’s to someone’s house, I ask them if they have subscribed to Star Sports. If we’re going out to a cafe, I call and find out if they’ll keep the match on. (Most of the times, cafes and pubs in India prefer playing cricket (even old matches) over live football). Anyway, there’s nothing I look forward to as much as a good match! You can call your friends over, make popcorn, watch the match and have a really fun weekend at zero cost. International breaks and those two no-football months after EPL is over are almost torturous! I’m telling you, the sport is addictive!
4. Football increases your general knowledge: I’m not even kidding. Once you begin to follow football, you learn of new names, new countries, new languages. You learn to connect names to countries. You know how they say that men are better at geography? It’s probably so because they follow sports. After I started following football, I learnt about so many countries, like Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc. I learnt to distinguish players country-by-country just by learning their names. Of course that’s possible only to an extent, with names like Nistelrooij, Vrij, Sneijder, or Neuer, Gotze, Muller. I’ll never know where Papa Bouba Diop is from by reading his name.
5. It will be one of the few constants in your life: You know, I don’t even know how football happened to me. One day, I said “I sort of like Arsenal.” And being one of the most pampered cousins, I was suddenly showered with Arsenal merchandise from all directions. Calendars, jerseys, mugs, flags, books, (used) tickets to Emirates, banners, scarves, posters, piggy banks, my God! Name it, I have it! Before even I knew it, everyone around me had made me a fan. Automatically, I had some direction to follow in my life. I began following all of Arsenal’s games, read up books and articles and made it a vital part of my life. My yoga sir says, “Nothing in a human is permanent. Your body changes and deteriorates. Your thoughts change, thereby making your mind fickle. But your soul is the only permanent thing.” I think when you support a football team, you put not your body or mind, but your soul in it. Your support for a team becomes the only permanent thing, the only constant in your life, when everything around you and inside you changes.
6. It increases the success rate in your career: Ok, I’m not entirely sure how it will work in something like an IT profession. Maybe you can build good rapport with your boss, provided he’s a football follower and impress him enough to give you a promotion. But if you’re in the field of journalism, like I am, knowing football or any sport for that matter, can put you on TV. Since women sports journalists are always in demand, if you know the sport, you’ll be sure to get hired. I think this works mostly in TV media though.
7. It makes you feel like part of a community: When the player of your favourite team scores, you get off your sofa at home and jump, hop and dance all around your house. All this for something that has no direct impact on your life whatsoever. When a player from your team gets injured, you cover your mouth watching the replay of the Stoke player (most likely) ramming into your player. You swear at the guy who made the foul, along with a million others who are swearing in their houses at the same guy. I don’t think such massive numbers ever come into consensus over anything else! So if your team loses and you’re sad, you have a million people to share your sorrow and no one will ridicule your sadness, except maybe your mom. You are a part of a huge football family, and you can be proud of it.
8. You’ll be that awesome person destroying gender stereotypes: I can actually count the number of girlfriends who follow football on one hand. Actually, on three fingers. Really! I’m not being sexist or feminist fail or whatever else you might name me. It’s the truth. In fact, the only other football fan, who is also a friend, Sanjana, suggested to me this point. Seriously girls, sometimes, guys just like making fun of girls by asking them easy questions when they know that girls don’t know the answer. It makes the whole gender look dumb. Take a look at this video. It’s of a guy asking Mumbai girls questions like “Which country does Messi play for” and girls are responding with answers like “Chelsea.” “Who will win in a match between Netherlands and Holland?” is a question, and the girls pick one of the two. :-/ It’s not the girls’ fault that they aren’t interested in football! But these kind of videos are trying to make the whole gender look dumb, just by asking a handful of girls something they aren’t interested in. So it would be nice to defy the guys their dumb laughs once in a while. Shaving your head or walking around with armpit hair (ew) like the Fastrack ad encourages you to, is not an entirely pleasant way of destroying gender stereotypes. You can be a little more moderate and follow football instead.
That’s all! A good way to start is by following the English Premier League, which airs on weekends in the evening on Star Sports. Or contact me and I’ll guide you. I’m not forcing you to watch football, but you’ll never know how awesome it is, until you give it a shot.
Disclaimer: I sent this to my friends to review before publishing it. They all warned me about getting into gender-bias arguments n stuff. I don’t mean to demean anyone or any gender through this post. Just saying that to follow football is a healthy habit. Sigh. I hate having to put disclaimers. I don’t like to people who pick on everything that’s written. I’m a peaceful person and mean no harm. Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading it. If you did, thank you! : ) If you didn’t, well, go read something else. : ) The internet has lots to read.
Here is another listicle I had written before listicles became mainstream.
Hope this blog post finds you
My intention is for post to inspire you, to create something
extraordinary sufficiently imaginative.
Usually when I’m bored, or on my day off from work, I like to read. One day, I decided to make a bookmark for the book I was reading. And then it turned into a wonderful habit! So now, I make bookmarks for every book I read, corresponding to the content of the book. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
A crown for Game of Thrones: It all started off with this book. I already knew what would happen in the book because I’d seen the TV show, so I had to do something interesting to motivate myself to pick up the book and read it. So I made this bookmark. It’s a bit childish and too colourful, but it worked and I finished the book.
A lipstick for The Bell Jar: This idea seemed so ironic that it made me extra excited to make it. I love how it’s so glossy, in contrast to the content of the book. But then again, Esther Greenwood, the protagonist, is working as an intern at a fashion magazine. So this one kind of made sense. (PS: I didn’t find this book as depressing as people made it to be. It’s an interesting read.)
A football field for sports books: I made this one while reading My Story, by Gazza (Paul Gascoigne). By this time, it had already become a habit – a sort of gift to honour the book. I quite like this one and it suits all my sports books, and football is the only sport I really read about. I read It’s Not About The Bike by Lance Armstrong, and then felt horribly let down after the drug scandal. I don’t trust any other sport other than football, although Arsenal have so far only let me down. Let’s not get there.
A shirt with a tie for Trainspotting: I don’t remember why I chose to make a formal clothing bookmark for Trainspotting of all books. I must have probably drawn a syringe or something. But again, I think I fancied the irony of it. Besides, the book probably starts off with an interview that Spud goes to.
Hearts for romantic books (Like du’uh): I usually don’t like hearts but I LOVE these. They’re so easy to make and look really pretty! I tried making these as a gift for Nuvena’s birthday. I made a few for myself. It’s just origami and doesn’t even require glue. It takes two minutes to make it. It’s a pity that I can never get myself to start romance novels.
This one is for fun fantasy fiction books, like 13 and a Half Lives of Captain Blue Bear: This book by Walter Moers is one of my favourites because it’s just so ludicrous! I can’t get enough of the book. This bookmark seemed fitting, because it’s equally absurd and the book has so many funny monster-ish characters. I felt it perfect.
Vegeta’s space pod for Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: I think this one is my favourite one so far, maybe simply for the last picture. I’m currently reading this book and also currently obsessed with Dragon Ball Z. And the two of them seem to have so many similarities. In both the series, people are set out to destroy the Earth and have extra terrestrial creatures, from Magrathea, Namek, Planet Vegeta, Earth, etc. It is a fairly simple bookmark, but I loved editing it on Pixlr Express.
This flip bookmark for Memoirs of a Geisha. It looks like a geisha on the surface. When flipped opened, she’s a normal girl, with the exact same eyes.
A kite for Kite Runner: What a book! I just couldn’t put it down. I read it even as a PDF during work hours. Sshhh… Obviously, it’s a kite, with a little thread (not made of powdered glass) hanging from it. :)
My puppy’s paw for animal books: The next one I made required some thought. It was a book about animals. All kinds of animals. It was Beasts in my Belfry by Gerald Durrell. Before this, I even read The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot. I couldn’t figure out what kind of an epic bookmark will do justice to animals. So, after a lot of thought, I went to my doggie, painted her feet read, and got her pug-mark for my bookmark. I asked my friend, Aditya, to come up with a cool line to put on the bookmark. So this is what came out of it.
The Star of David for Exodus: The next bookmark I made was for Exodus. I’ve written my thoughts about the book here.
A mountain for Into Thin Air: I borrowed Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer from Justbooks (with my brand new membership card)! It’s a very interesting book and has a lot to do with the work I do – about trekking. So I decided to draw a mountain. I almost made it very childish, by throwing some glitter into the picture.
A bookmark as a gift for a friend. I really loved making this bookmark because I’m a tea-lover myself. And thanks to this, I got another idea for another friend.
This was a coffee bookmark that smelled like coffee. Well, at least for a week. I painted it with coffee decoction and let it dry and then wrote on it. It was a big hit at office. I had to make one for everyone.
A cartoon-ish rocket for Surely You’re Joking, Mr.Feynman. This was such a pleasurable read! It was funny and sciency at the same time. So I felt this bookmark with formulae I don’t understand scribbled on it apt. That little blue arrow-like thing acts as a clip on. Cool no?
A dagger for Aarushi. This might seem quite morally inappropriate, but I couldn’t think of anything else. It seemed apt for that “khukuri” that kept popping up in the book.
A quick sketch of River Siene in Paris for All The Light You Cannot See. This might be one of my favourite bookmarks. I loved the book, it had a lot of little life lessons. I can still hear snails sighing and crabs scuttling about when I think of this book. And this pretty bookmark did justice to the book.
A sketch of Mars for The Martian. Well, du’uh. And that’s mitochondria or anything of that sort. It’s how Mars looks, ok?
Annoying Orange for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. This bookmark is no not the book, but having “orange” in the title was the perfect excuse to make an Annoying Orange bookmark.
A leaf from Dehradun for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra. When I went on a trek to Kedarkantha, I picked up a leaf and brought it back home. I made a bookmark with it. It says “Protect the forests just as they protect you.”
A playing card for I Am The Messenger. For a guy who finds messages hidden in playing cards, this one couldn’t have been easier.
This pathetic philosopher’s stone for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a re-read of one of the most epic series. And I thought I’ll make a grand bookmark with a 3D effect. Finally the bookmark sucked.
A Swastika for Alone in Berlin. I hope my blog doesn’t get reported for this bookmark.
A pretty cool flag of China for Wild Swans. This book by Jung Chang is one epic read! This bookmark was also pretty nice because I made it with cloth. If you look closely, the stick has Cantonese inscription on it.
A seahorse for Love in the Time of Cholera. Well, this book has nothing to do with sea horses, but my colleague Seersha drew this beautiful seahorse and I had to make a bookmark out of it! Also, I tried to draw a relationship with how sea horses are asexual animals and how Florentina Ariza has to go on living like an asexual creature for 51 years despite his mad love for Fermina Daza. His love remains unrequited, so I guess a sea horse is a good bookmark. :P
Towards the end of 2015, I made around 40-50 bookmarks for charity. They were sold at a corporate company for some small amount and the amount was given for charity. I drew warli art on all these bookmarks. Soon, I began improvising and drew footballing warli people. It was so much fun and also fulfilling!
That’s all I’ve made so far. The best part is, I’ve recycled random cardboards for all the bookmarks. See? They’re random boxes in which I get clothes, chocolates, etc. I save them for future use. Try not to buy new materials for these purposes. : )
Also, my friend had once done something very brainy. To invite us to a dance, Supriya had made invites, except they could be used as bookmarks. It’s a very thoughtful thing to do if you don’t want to waste paper.
Also, I’ve been gifted these bookmarks by Supriya and Anand, and I think they’re the cutest ever!
So I hope I’ve inspired you to do something creative in your free time.
Because every good book deserves a good book mark. : )
If you’re all fascinated by my creativity and want to see some more, check this out.
Usually, when I interview someone, I like to keep it professional, ethical and maintain my integrity. It’s mostly just an animated-ish conversation (because that’s how I speak – in a sing-song voice) and I get straight to the point. Even if I admire the person, it’s just a few subtle words of adulation and it’s back to business.
But ALL my principles went tumbling down the drain when I met this guy. Freddie Ljungberg. (For those of you who don’t know him, he played at Arsenal for ten years, during the era of The Invincibles, the team went 49 games unbeaten.) Honestly speaking, I hadn’t seen him play much, because I didn’t follow football until five years ago. When he played in the early 2000s, I was still supporting the Italian national team simply because Italy made pizza.
Anyway, let’s not discuss that. When I heard of this AFC Tunnel of Time event that Puma was organising to launch Arsenal’s new kit at UB City, and that it was exclusive to invitees only, I knew I could pull a few strings and get to the event. Little did I expect to get an exclusive interview with Freddie!
I hyperventilated all the way to the room where the interview was going to happen. Initially, I had made pages of questions, and after the press conference, I realised that most of my questions were already covered. So, hurriedly, with the help of my friends, I made new questions and went to him with seven pages of notes and questions.
I was ushered into the room along with two other journalists. I had expected a one-on-one, but I didn’t care. I wouldn’t argue with the organisers, lest I jeopardise my opportunity to meet Freddie. So I walked in, made myself comfortable and waited for him.
Five minutes passed.
The first glimpse I caught of him, was in the form of his reflection. The dark glass walls of the room showed me a tall-ish figure walking towards us in calm strides. Then his real form appeared in front of us, modestly apologising for making us wait. “I’m so sorry I had to make you wait. Hi, I’m Freddie Ljungberg,” he said and shook hands. I couldn’t stop grinning. Throughout those 10 minutes I was with him, I felt like everything was happening of its own accord, but somehow going my way.
I kind of dominated the interview, because the other two journalists were not Arsenal fans. I started the conversation with, “It’s awesome awesome AWESOME to have you in Bangalore. I’m a BIG fan of Arsenal.” That’s kind of where my “journalistic principles” just disappeared and never came back for the rest of the night. I’m not saying I was a nervous wreck or something. Like I said, everything went my way, mostly because Freddie was a darling. With easy smiles, he answered all my questions and put much thought into them. That’s always a good sign, at least for me. I like them to think and answer rather than have ready-made answers because of having answered the same questions again and again. So this is how the rather haphazard interview with the blue-eyed footballer went:
Me: Did you expect the crazy crowd out there?
Freddie: No, you never expect anything. It’s always nice to see support. I’ve been working as an ambassador for Arsenal for a while and have been travelling around Asia. It gets crazy sometimes with 5,000 people waiting at the airport. So you never know what’s going to happen. I hope they had the good time I had; I’m really happy.
Journalist 2 and 3: Why exactly did you decide to promote the Indian Super League?
Freddie: I’m trying to give the sport some publicity in the country. Ever since I retired, I’ve been asked to do a lot of training and promoting work in many countries, but in India, I felt there was a real passion behind it. I see proper interest in the country and lot of young talent. Back when I was in Arsenal, there were 14 different nationalities in one team and I felt there is so much to learn from each country as a human being. It’s great for me to be here, because I get to learn as much.
Me: How would you compare club football and national football? What do you enjoy more?
Freddie: When you play for a club, you play everyday and the team is much better. When you’re missing a left back, you can just look around, find a left-back and buy him. (Laughs, and I giggle). When you play for a national team, however, if you don’t have a great left-back in your country, you have no choice. Besides, you meet just five days and you leave. But the honour while representing your country is unmatched. When you’re 15 years old, and you play for the national team, you have goose bumps when the national anthem is played, it’s an amazing feeling.
Journalist 2: So how is the current Arsenal squad when compared to The Invincibles?
Freddie: I don’t like to compare them. The current team will have a lot of pressure because we won so many titles in the past. They have started with the FA Cup again and I’d like for them to keep that going. Besides, there was the construction of the Emirates stadium in between, which put a financial constraints on the club. That’s when we supported them, we were all together. Last season, we spent a lot of money, we bought Ozil, I can only see the club getting better now.
Me: Alright, I’m going to rewind a bit. What made you take up football? When did you first kick the ball?
Freddie: Oh! (Laughs and looks reminiscent) My father played football and my mother also worked back then. So my dad used to take me with him and park next to the football field. The kit-man looked after me; he changed my nappies while I sat watching my dad play football. I think… My parents always told me that from a very young age, I always loved balls. Even when I couldn’t walk, I was always calling after the balls from my dad and stuff like that. It came naturally to me. It’s a funny story actually. When I was five years old, my parents wanted to move to a bigger city, because my dad got a job. They asked me about it, (of course it wasn’t up to me, but they were just being polite (laughs)). They asked me if I’d be okay with it, and I said, “Only if you take me to a proper football club.” So they took me, and I was in a club when I was five, when other kids usually start at 6 or 7. So that’s how it started.
Me: So you were a demanding kid, huh!
Freddie: Unfortunately, yeah! (Laughs)
Journalist 2: So whom did you consider your inspiration?
Freddie: A lot of people have inspired me. My mom and dad of course. My dad played football, so we spoke about football a lot at home. I managed to have a great coach when I was young, which is why I was talking about how important it is to learn good fundamentals at a young age. Then of course, I’ve had managers like Arsene. He has had the biggest influence because he’s been my main coach and I have been under him for 10 years. He taught me a lot. Sometimes, back home, a lot of players got arrogant as they grew popular, but Arsene always taught us to be humble. It’s one of the things I love at Arsenal. He taught me to treat everyone equally. It’s something he left behind.
Me: If you hadn’t joined Arsenal when you did, which team would you have rather joined?
Freddie: It’s hard to say, really. When I was 16, I said no to Bayern Munich. When I was 18, I said no to Barcelona. I didn’t think I was ready. Arsenal came up, and so did Juventus and another team. Finally, my agent decided that I was ready to leave the country and play in Europe. But that was a hard decision. In Sweden, you don’t earn any money at all, and in Europe there’s a lot more money. But with my parents’ advice, I moved to Europe. I joined Arsenal and stayed there ten years because I didn’t want to go anywhere else!
Me: Weren’t you tempted to join any other team in between?
Freddie: Well, many teams tempted me a lot. But I loved the way we played football. I thought we were one of the best teams in Europe and didn’t see a point in moving to another club. So I stayed. : )
Journalist 3: What about now? What are you planning to do in the future?
Freddie: In my life? (Laughs) I’ve been asked quite a lot to do managing and stuff. But I’ve got a young family so I don’t want to take that up yet. Right now, I’m Arsenal’s ambassador, so I have to travel the world, meeting mayors and politicians. So I do that, and I work with Puma, so all these things keep me busy.
Journalist 2: Do you plan to remain in the field of football or do you ever see yourself out of it?
Freddie: My father worked with buildings, and it’s a passion for my family. So I build buildings now and I really enjoy it.
Me: Well, speaking of off-the-field, are you still modelling?
Freddie: I never do modelling. (Hearty laughter). But yeah, I work with a few brands, and it works well for both parties. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life as it came with my football abilities. They thought I was a good match for their brand, and yes I do some modelling!
Me: Does it come easily to you? Especially the Calvin Klein shoot?
Freddie: No. (Laughs again.) It took them three months to convince me to do it. I was like “Pose in my underwear? No chance!” But they convinced me and made me comfortable and I did it for four years. It worked well and the pictures turned out well. But it was something I was really nervous about.
Me: And how have you managed to stay fit, considering you retired a couple of years ago?
Freddie: I do martial arts four times a week. I enjoy it; the reason behind that being, as a player you miss that buzz you get when you walk out to a full stadium and feel the adrenaline kicking in. In my opinion, when you do martial arts, sparring against someone who wants to hurt you gives you that adrenaline rush. That’s why I started it and it keeps me fit as well.
Journalist 2: How do you manage to travel so much and maintain your personal life at the same time? (He got married just nine weeks ago and has already travelled to Dubai, China and other places)
Freddie: It does get hectic, but when I played, I travelled a lot more, almost three times a week. But as a footballer, that’s how you live. Now I’m home much more than I used to be. I go ten days on Arsenal trips and stuff, but in general, I’m home a lot more.
Me: This is a highly hypothetical question. If Henry manages the team someday in future, do you think you might coach along with him?
Freddie: We’ll see. I’ve been adviced by other managers not to be an assistant and be a coach who gets to make his own decisions. So it depends on the circumstances I suppose.
Me: Alright, right now, who do you think is the player that plays most like you?
Freddie: Ooo! It’s hard to say. I got a lot of messages on Twitter after the Community Shield saying Sanchez played a bit like me. I would say, a mix of Sanchez, Walcott and Rosicky would constitute a game like mine.
Me: What would you say was your strongest quality as a footballer?
Freddie: Oh! You have to get better at everything, but when I played, I would say my vision – reading the game. I had quick feet and my technique was probably my strength, which is very important.
Me: So what would your advice to young footballers be?
Freddie: I don’t know if it’s a big debate in India – if you should work on physical or technical skills as a kid. Personally, I think it’s important to work on the technical skills. There are a lot of kids, myself included, who are really small when they’re kids. When I was playing for the national team at 15, I was rather small and not built. I worked only on my technical skills. By the time we all turned 19, the players who had worked on the physical bit were not selected at all, because they were strong and powerful but had no technical abilities. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re built. That will come naturally later on. But it’s difficult to start training for technical abilities when you’re 18.
So, that’s that. For me, it was more about meeting him and getting the many jerseys and scarves my friends had given me signed. The interview was a bonus. I haven’t put down the mainstream questions from the press conference here. For that, you can read this article, which has articulated the whole event well. This was my first BIG interview and all this had to be done in under ten minutes with other people in the room. But I’d say I was quite confident throughout the interview, contrary to my beliefs before I started speaking. Maybe Freddie just had a calming aura around him. Or maybe I was buzzing because I had just met an Invincible. I’m still reeling with excitement thinking about it. I was beside myself yesterday, squealing in delight at everything!
I’m really thankful to Puma for bringing Arsenal to all us Gunners. We waited for the drought to end, and suddenly it’s all coming crashing on us, the FA Cup, the Community Shield, this. Well, it’s all a part of being a football family, I suppose. You win some, you lose some.
Thanks again, Freddie, for making my career, my profession, my blog, and my life more meaningful.
My hands are trembling to the extent where I have retyped each word. Well, not each word. An enthralling game, a massive crowd and an alcohol dependency will do that to you I suppose. I’m writing this on the back of the best game of football witnessed at the Bengaluru stadium ever! The atmosphere was off the hook! Walking into the stadium along with thousands of fellow supporters was an experience in itself. The camaraderie was unmissable. Looking around the stadium, I saw hordes of people wearing the JSW jersey and it was evident that everyone around that place had only one thing on their mind.
Right. So onto the game itself. The starting eleven was fairly straightforward but notable absentees were Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh much to my displeasure. I was really looking forward to seeing the two of them right at the start. More on them later. The first couple of exchanges were quite nervy and the crowd really got behind the team which might’ve been just the catalyst that the home side needed. Every pass and every tackle was cheered with great fervor something that was previously unseen at the grounds. A special mention about the stadium itself. The stands look quite stunning with the new colors. A functioning LED screen was an added bonus and it was surprisingly clean although the F&B section could’ve been better organized but it’s a serious upgrade from what was served earlier.
There were a couple of corners for each side within the first 20 odd minutes but there was no great threat from either side. The players might’ve been overawed by the reception they got when they walked out as well and they just needed to string a few passes together to calm the nerves. Katsumi Yusa, the number 10 for Mohun Bagan, was quite easily their best player in the opening exchanges and drew a fair amount of stick from the crowd. An early penalty to Mohun Bagan which didn’t look like a foul from where I was sitting, was met with an uproar from the crowd. Not what you want to see in the first quarter of the game. But Pawan Kumar in goal pulled off a stunning save and the evening seemed to be back on track again. Again, I can hardly find the words to describe the reaction of the fans to the penalty save. Unbelievable stuff. A free-kick was awarded to Bagan around the 25 minute mark and Katsumi stepped up and unleashed a super effort which thudded off the crossbar. The keeper was comprehensively beaten. A collective sigh around the ground. A couple of minutes later, the Indian captain walked out to warm up on the touchline and the crowd went berserk. The scores were level at half time. A very entertaining first half owing largely to the occasion itself.
The second half begun pretty much the same way the previous half had ended. A good move down the flank gave Vishak Kumar enough time and space to setup Sean Rooney. A simple tap in for the Australian. The roar from the crowd must’ve been heard a few miles away. It was phenomenal! The crowd barely settled back in their seats and the nimble footed Keegan Pereira was brought down in the box after a good run down the left flank. Penalty awarded! Rooney immediately grabbed the ball. A confident run up ended up in a miscued shot and a decent save by Sandip Nandy, the Mohun Bagan shot stopper. A few faint cheers from the very few vocal Mohun Bagan supporters in the ground. That was the chance to put the game to bed and coast it. Huge groans from the crowd but it was almost immediately followed up with a huge round of applause for no apparent reason. There was no stopping the fans today. Three letters resonated around the ground. BFC!
On came Chhetri around the hour mark and almost had an instant impact. His controlled volley only barely wide. Yusa, clearly not the crowd favorite, had another fine effort stopped by the woodwork. The Japanese midfielder was clearly their only creative outlet and threat.
There were 6500 people at the stadium according to the announcement but that of course has to be an approximation only. A record turnout. The highest attendance in 25 years apparently.
Robin Singh came on for the last ten minutes and was played out wide. A second yellow card resulted in a sending off for one of the Bengaluru boys, for what seemed like a dive was just the boost the opponents needed. The game was stretched now. We just needed to see out the game.
Right at the death, a corner from the far end of the ground led to the equalizer. Some shocking defending at the back post. Sabeeth headed in almost unchallenged. Extremely poor marking. A late equalizer is always extremely deflating even though this is just the first game of the season. It ended 1-1 after 90 minutes plus stoppage time.
All in all, a very encouraging start to the campaign. I’ve got to reiterate the electric atmosphere which the crowd helped create. The ground was absolutely buzzing. The standout performer for me was John Menyongar in the middle of the park. A very influential player with some silky touches to boot.
I cannot wait for the next home game against Rangdajied United. It could very well be the day we get our first win. Come. Be a part of the revolution and add to the growing fan base. It’s this Sunday at 4.
And of course, cheers to Arsenal’s 3-1 win and United’s 1-4 loss! Haha! Good night! :)
– Nischal Naidu
Nischal is going for the Bengaluru FC vs Mohun Bagan AC match tomorrow. Here are his thoughts on Bengaluru taking part in the I-League and why buying the most expensive ticket for the match is completely worth it.
The Mumbai based JSW have ensured that football fans in the city get what we have been craving for years! You see, usually no one deserves anything in sport or life. But you know what; football fans in Bengaluru do deserve a slice of full fat goodness after years of frustration of watching other cities have teams and talent in our city go wasted. Sunday is a massive, massive day for all of us. I’ve never seen tickets sell out so quickly at the stadium before! Not even when the VIP stand tickets were as cheap as Rs. 50 a couple of years ago!
Well, we’ve aced the summer and the pre-season by signing the captain of the Indian football team amongst a host of other Indian superstars. The four foreign players are no mugs themselves. Defender Johnson comes from the very physical English league and will have no trouble fitting into the heart of the defense. A couple of promising local youngsters have been signed on as well. Shelton Nickson (U-17), being one of them. Heading into July, the club announced Ashley Westwood as the clubs first head coach. Westwood, a former Manchester United youth player and former Blackburn Rovers assistant manager seems like the perfect fit. Those in the know, have nothing but positive things to say about the Englishman. The squad seems to enjoy training under him. Also, the introduction of the ‘Swear Jar’ is something that has caught the eye.
Though setting up of a local youth academy is pre requisite to play in the premier competition, in the long run, it is extremely good for the youngsters in the city as there are only a few academies setup to serve this purpose. The stadium has got a face lift as well and looks like it will be a top notch venue for football and might be in consideration to host the FIFA U-17 World cup in 2017.
The pictures were taken from Bengaluru FC’s facebook page.
The host of public appearances made by the team for a variety of reasons has helped in creating this massive buzz around the city. Open training sessions and visits to various hotspots to interact, have helped to establish a lot of hype outside of the social space as well. The support for the club is swelling to unbelievable numbers, judging by the incessant posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter. The club even has a tie up with Bookmyshow so fans can buy their tickets online, which are priced starting from Rs.30, 50, 150, 300 and 450. And Arbor Brewing Company is going to be the home pub for the season, telecasting games and selling merchandise. It’s going to be a kickass scene for football followers to interact and probably get together, support the home team and perhaps play a bit of football!
This is the most excited I’ve been about the I-League! Ever! I’ve been longing for a local team to support and Bengaluru FC is the answer. A revamped stadium, a squad brimming with quality, an experienced coach and thousands of Bengalureans behind them has all the makings to dominate the local scene for the next couple of weeks. This makes shelling out for the most expensive ticket at the Bengaluru stadium worth it. It has been the talk of the town for a few weeks and the excitement is palpable and it all culminates this Sunday at 4. Our time is now! C’mon Bengaluru!!
Match updates – The I-League kicked off today, with three matches taking place. The day saw defending champions, Churchill Brothers SC, lose 0-1 to Salgaocar FC in a Goa derby. Mumbai FC and Sporting Clube de Goa drew 1-1 and Pune FC humiliated Mohammedan Sporting club with a 3-1 win, away from home. That puts Pune on top of the table, but it doesn’t make sense to look at the table already.
We shall wait for tomorrow and see what happens! Until then.
Ok this post is for all those of you who follow football but have no clue about the I-League and its new born team, Bengaluru FC! Starting today, I, along with a friend, Nischal Naidu, whom, for covenience we’ll be referring to as Naidu, will be writing previews and reviews of all Bengaluru FC’s games and I’m warning you right now, the posts will be biased. We are fans of Bengaluru FC! Just FYI, Naidu has been playing football for many many years and is also a fellow Gunner. He knows quite a bit about European and Indian football and will be writing opinion columns as well.
But here is the thing, I, personally, have no clue about the team. So during my learning process, I’m going to acquaint all you noobs with namma team. Alright, this is going to take just a few minutes. Let’s start.
First and foremost, recognise your team’s logo.
The logo has the outline of the Bangalore Palace and the two headed mythical bird is called the Gandaberunda and is apparently the emblem of Karnataka. You can read more about it here.
That’s what the jersey looks like. Personally, I’m not too fond of it. Looks a bit tacky to me. I don’t like the way JSW is sprawled across the front. But it hardly matters.
WHO OWNS THE TEAM?
JSW Steel Company. As the name suggests, it’s an Indian steel company based in Maharashtra, with its headquarters in Mumbai (du’uh). The company obtained rights to run the team with a three year relegation-freeze, that means Bengaluru FC doesn’t get relegated no matter what for three years (yay!), because JSW is helping out overall football infrastructure in the city in return. The CEO is Parth Jindal, just so you recognise it if his name props up somewhere.
WHO IS THE COACH?
Ashley Westwood. He is a former Manchester United youth football graduate and was also an assistant coach at Blackburn (that Venky’s team). He was a defender for as long as he played (15 years) and has managed several others teams apart from Blackburn (Blackpool, Portsmouth, etc).
Pradhyum Reddy is the assistant manager. He previously managed Shillong Lajong and has some experience with players who were on the same team before. That might be a good thing because he has watched the other teams play as well, as opposed to Westwood, who is new to the I-League.
I’m just going to put down names of all players and their positions. The pictures are in the order of the list of players given below. Scroll your mouse over the pictures (second set) to see their names.
Pawan Kumar– Goalkeeper. He is an experienced goalkeeper and has played for teams like Air India, Salgaocar and JCT.
John Johnson– English defender who has formerly played with Middlesborough in the English Premier League
Curtis Osano– Kenyan defender who played with Reading from 2005-08
Rino Anto- Defender. He was on the Mohun Bagan squad but doesn’t really have much experience. A relatively new player.
Lalrozama Fanai– Defender. Again he has little experience with Mohun Bagan.
Johnny Menyongar– Liberian midfielder who has played previously for Dempo, United Sikkhim and Shillong Lajong
Malemngamba Meetei– Midfielder. He was part of Bangalore’s previous HAL team.
Thoi Singh– 22-year-old midfielder. Although he has been at Mahindra United, Salgaocar and United Sikkhim, he has had negligible experience.
Siam Hangal- Midfielder. He played for Palian Arrows before. (There is no picture of him.)
Sean Rooney– Australian striker who is here on a one year contract. When this guy was signed, headlines read “Bengaluru FC signs Rooney!” Oh journalism’s cheap tactics to get people to read!
Sunil Chettri– Striker. He has played previously for Mohun Bagan, Dempo, East Bengal, Chirag United and more. He is currently the captain of the Indian National Team
Robin Singh– He is so cute. Oh wait. What? Sorry. He is a striker who, until recently, played for East Bengal, and is likely to be used as a substitute
Also, there is a rule that only four foreigners are allowed to play on a particular team.
Well, hope you learnt some little bit about the team. We play Mohun Bagan on the coming Sunday and we have another home game next week. But we’ll tackle it one at a time. Will write up a preview tomorrow! Or maybe i’ll just write reviews. Let’s see, Whatever works. Good luck for Sunday everyone! Just in case you want to know names of the other teams, check out the league table below. We’re on top at the moment! Yeah!
PS: All posts related to Bengaluru FC will be under the category ‘Bengaluru FC.’ And do follow this blog to be updated about future posts. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you! Thank you for reading!
I was asked to write a column on something sports related as an assignment and I chose to write about the North London Derby. As a journalism student , this is one of the most difficult things I have done – being an Arsenal fan, writing about the North London Derby WITHOUT BEING BIASED. I have to admit I wrote the words ‘scum,’ ‘c**k sucker,’ ‘shite hart lane,’ ‘bald headed jackass,’ ‘yiddo,’ ‘chimp,’ etc. and backspaced quite a few times. It wasn’t easy. This is what I wrote though.
Of the many storied rivalries in the history of football, one of the most celebrated and volatile is the North London Derby, Arsenal vs. Tottenham. The Gunners and Spurs have wrangled over victory in their neighbourhood for more than a century with the same vigour and ruthlessness that they began with in 1909.
Arsenal, which was a Second Division Team, moved from Manor Ground to Highbury, just four kilometres away from White Hart Lane in 1913. They went on to beat Tottenham, which was then a First Division Club at White Hart Lane, with a smashing 5-1 score line in a War Relief Fund match. This intensified the competitive spirit and the need for vengeance among the Spurs. The Spurs didn’t get their revenge until 1921 when they quenched their thirst with a 2-1 victory.
Until 1976, both teams had been more or less at par with each other, with 31 victories to Tottenham, 28 victories to Arsenal and 17 games drawn. But from 1977-80 and 1987-90, Tottenham saw six consecutive losses. They faced a drought of victories from 1997 to 2010, one year (2003-04) of which was when the Invincibles reigned at Highbury.
Tottenham felt partially gratified when victory came after 17 years in the form of a Premier League victory (2-1) on April 14th, 2010. This day, when Tottenham also broke a run of 68 games of continuous losses away from home against the ‘big four’ clubs, is incidentally celebrated as St. Hotspur’s Day by Spurs fans. This celebration day was originally declared when Tottenham beat Arsenal 3-1 on the same date in 1991 in the FA Cup semi-final.
To even it out, Arsenal fans celebrate St. Totteringham’s Day on that day in the season when Arsenal have gathered enough points to be mathematically assured to finish ahead of Tottenham in the league table.
Both North London teams have witnessed certain players who have changed the contours of this iconic contention; a few players have created a stir among fans and players alike by shifting loyalties to the rival club. Sol Campbell, Pat Jennings (Tottenham to Arsenal) and Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas (Arsenal to Tottenham) are among the few whom fans consider treacherous.
Adebayor, who ended his glorious career with Arsenal in 2009 with 143 appearances and 62 goals from 2006, was transferred to Manchester City from where he was sent to Real Madrid on loan. Much to the vehemence of Arsenal fans, his next transfer was to Tottenham in 2011, with whom he signed a permanent contract in 2012.
In the 2012-13 season of the Premier League, during the first North London Derby at Emirates in November 2012, Adebayor scored a goal in the first minute, gifting Tottenham the lead. But he was almost immediately sent off for a nasty tackle on Santi Cazorla. The Gunners went on to win the game with a 5-2 score line, the second win with the same score line against Tottenham in 2012. Tottenham, following the previous season’s routine, beat Arsenal 2-1 at White Hart Lane in February 2013.
Every player’s/fan’s worst nightmare is to lose against the rival club. At times when emotions run like cold steel through veins, every element involved with the club, for those 90 minutes, experiences a feeling of oneness with the club, its history and its spirit. Be it an Arsenal fan or a Spurs fan, during a North London Derby, nothing else matters.
“Hark now hear,
The Tottenham sing the Arsenal run away,
And we will fight forever more because of Boxing Day.” – The Spurs
“When I was just a little boy, I asked my mother ‘what will I be?’
‘Will I be Chelsea? Will I be Spurs?’ Here’s what she said to me.
‘Wash your mouth out son! And get your father’s gun!
And shoot the Tottenham scum! Que sera sera!’” – The Gooners