Aroop Chaudhari, the secretary of Official Chelsea India Supporters club is a well-know figure among Chelsea fans in India. They have been spear-heading all initiatives undertaken by Chelsea in India. I got the wonderful opportunity to talk to him and made the most of it.
Q. How did the Chelsea India supporters club come about and how did it become official?
Aroop : Shrenik Garge started a group on Orkut and we all met up. I was in touch with other official fan clubs and got them to help us get official.
Q. Since when did you support Chelsea and how?
Aroop : Well I started following football from the 2002 World Cup , I had just shifted to a new place, so I had no friends and nothing to do on weekends. So I started following the English Premier League. The first match I saw was Chelsea vs Manchester United and all my friends were supporting Manchester United so I went with the underdogs, Chelsea took a 2-0 lead only for Giggs to equalise. Got the thrill and I haven’t looked back since then.
Q. Well what according to you is the best part of being a Chelsea fan?
Aroop : I don’t believe there is something better about being a Chelsea fan than being any other football club’s fan. What matters is if you love your club completely without prejudices and you’ll be happy enough to not bother yourself with others. Having said that, Jose taught us against the world mentality is a winner, probably what won us the Champions League.
Q. What has your most memorable moment as a Chelsea fan along with the fan club?
Aroop : Drogba’s penalty kick at the Champions League final screening in Goa. It was a logistical nighmare organising everything for people from all over the country but we pulled it off and Chelsea won so it was the greatest possible reward and the best moment was being with fans we had only talked to online but there we stood arms around the shoulders before Drogba took that kick and then madness ensued. The best moment of my life!
Q. In your eyes what can Chelsea win next season?
Aroop : This is going to be a new team, with players new to the Premier League. They’ll definitely take time. Super Cup, Club World Cup and Champions League qualification would be realistic.
Q. Describe your love for Chelsea in a few words.
Aroop : The purest form of love I’ve known. Something equivalent to what I’ve for my family. It grows with every win and becomes stronger with every loss.
Q. What do you think about Chelsea fans and football in general in India?
Aroop : Chelsea fans are a passionate bunch just like fans of other clubs but I have seen them suffer and yet come out strong. Makes me proud.Football in India is growing at an alarming rate but its more armchair following as of now, till the fans don’t flock to the stadiums. The corporates has to put in the money which is needed to improve grassroots and popularity of the sport.
Thank you Aroop for all your time and wishing you all the best in your future endeavors as a passionate Chelsea fan.