The answer to the question, "Which is the best fan club in India?" has to be, without a doubt and across sports, the one and only Manjappada. The fan club, a never-ending source of energy to Kerala Blasters, is an example to all football maniacs in the country.
Indian Super League commenced at a stage when Indian football was nearing an end of the line. There was no answer to where football in the nation was headed. People who went crazy over foreign leagues hardly knew the men who wore blue. The defining football league in the country, the I-League, was on the verdict of losing its fame. The famous Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derbies, the ruling periods of the Goan clubs were all things of past. In general, interest in Indian football was limited to a few who had a direct link with the game played.
But the stone that was laid on the evening of 21 October 2013 was a turning point. All of a sudden, people were giving attention to the headlines of Indian football. Fans gathered to see what the new beginning in football was. They were not disappointed, and most continue to be regular followers of the league till date.
A name that can't be left out after saying these words is - Manjappada. The word means 'Yellow Army' in Malayalam, in line with the famous yellow kits of Kerala Blasters. From its inception, the Manjappada has been with the Blasters, wherever they went.
These fanatics from Kerala have been a boost not only to their state but the whole football community in the country. They have set an example to every other fan club, displaying the do's and don'ts of a fan community. They have set the limits themselves and have stepped up at all right situations, at times even outside the football galleries.
Here, let's take a quick look at some things that other fan clubs in the country can learn from Manjappada.
#5 Setting up office
This is not a thing many fan clubs dare to do, especially in a country like India - setting up an office. The members of the club were quick to realize the need for an exact location to promote their activities. To bring together such a large number of fans is a gigantic task, which Manjappada has succeeded in. This would never have been possible without an office set up around 2000 meters from their home ground.
Manjappada has largely been involved in the social activities in the region. The community was actively doing their part for the flood victims of the state. Such involvements were regular throughout the off-season.
Coming to the direct involvement with the game, Manjappada now has members in various parts of the world. They have made their presence felt even in the stands of foreign leagues and the task of coordinating these members have been done exceptionally. The club authorities also launched a website earlier this year, along with a mobile application to interact with the users. Manjappada stays active in social media bringing about the latest updates and previews of Blasters' games to its fans.
Without any room for doubt, a physical location has very well helped the club reach out to all these activities. Certainly, this is a simple goal any fan club in any sports can do to make itself grow.