It almost feels like divine intervention to see the European football season kick off around the same time as the monsoons are in full bloom in India. From a Indian football lover’s point of view, its almost perfect timing. Watching your favourite team play, win or lose, while it’s raining outside is as close to perfection as it gets. I know everyone would prefer watching it live, but we’ve got to make the best of what we have, don’t we? And that’s what we do every year.
The word ‘season’ is so apt for describing a year of football, isn’t it? For the two-and-a-half odd months that club football isn’t played, everything seems so different. Weekends don’t seem as exciting any more. Sure, there’s transfer talk and international tournaments are being played, which are always welcome, but something still doesn’t feel right. There’s no gloating, passionate debating or just good old-fashioned yelling done in the boring months of May to August. And every fan, no matter whether his team won or lost, is just WAITING for the new season to start so he can watch his team destroy their most hated opponents.
And that’s the truly incredible part about being a football fan in India. Because geographically, we may be thousands of miles away, but during the ninety minutes our team is on the pitch, we are right there in the player’s dugout shouting out instructions and screaming ourselves hoarse. And I say ‘our’ team, because I realise after all these years, the passion in our hearts is real even though we may have never been to Old Trafford or the Bernabeu or Stamford Bridge or the stadium of any team you may support, for those ninety minutes we ARE there, no matter what anyone else may tell us. Our voices are the voices of the thousands of supporters in the stadium. Our happiness and grief is felt by fans all over the world. We are the fans and we are the team. For without us, what would football be than just a bunch of very large men kicking a ball around.
It is heartening to see football develop such large audience in India and the number continues to grow. It feels good to know that there is even a decent amount of support for the Indian football team, even though the numbers may be minuscule in comparison to Indians who support European clubs and countries. Hopefully, someday we may even start supporting, I mean truly supporting, local football and maybe, just maybe, propel Indian football on to higher ground.
But anyway, as it rains outside my window, and I try to analyse all that happened in the world of football this weekend, all I can think about is the next weekend, and the weekend after that. And after two weeks, it feels like football season is finally here. All the debates, the gossip and even the abusing is here to stay for a while. And just like the roar of the home crowd when it’s team scores a goal, it’s music to my ears.