The beautiful game's growth in popularity over the past two decades has been immense and football is arguably the most popular sport in the world. The Premier League is followed by fans across the globe and Chelsea in particular have been at the forefront of this movement and have grown into one of the most admired football clubs on the planet.
Since the turn of the millennium, Chelsea's successes have helped them break new ground and the club has found a huge following in India. The Stamford Bridge outfit has one of the biggest fanbases in India and the club's rise to prominence has spawned a generation of Blues aficionados in the country.
There is no shortage of Chelsea fans in the Indian subcontinent and in the latest episode of 'Certified Chelsea', Anant Tyagi gets into conversation with Akhil, Abhijit and Fawaz, about the inception of the Chelsea supporters group in the South Indian state of Kerala called Chelsea Fans Kerala.
Kerala is famous for its football heritage and the state has produced some of the best footballers the country has seen. Football is also widely celebrated in the region and the state that has been dubbed 'God's Own Country' has quite a passionate fanbase.
Chelsea Fans Kerala was started in 2008 via the then popular social media platform Orkut where supporters of the club came together to form a group to discuss matches and other related topics. Eventually, it gave way to match screenings where they could all come together to watch games together.
Chelsea Fans Kerala soon had 1000 members and were subsequently afforded official status. In 2019, Chelsea Fans Kerala got their own permanent banner hanging at Stamford Bridge, a move that Abhijit described as hitting the jackpot.
Fawaz and Akhil are also ardent fans of Indian professional football club Gokulam Kerala FC, who were crowned champions of the I-League in the 2020-21 season. The club also won the Durant Cup in 2019 after beating Indian football stalwarts Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the space of three days.
Fawaz is proud of his hometown club, which was founded in 2017 but has already gone on to achieve so much and has become the first Kerala-based side to feature in the AFC cup.
Indian football fans are a passionate bunch and don't mind spending the late hours of the night staying up to watch their favorite football teams play. Chelsea's successes under the likes of Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte have catapulted the club into immense popularity in the subcontinent and the Blues are certain to give their Indian supporters much to celebrate and cherish in the years to come.