Goa fans relishing ISL homecoming
Indian Super League has been on a successful trail with crowds responding well to the touted “revolutionary” football league in India. Not only has the factor of the club representing a city or a state helped, but the presence of legends of the game has proved to be a magnet, attracting kids, ladies and families alike for a game of football at the stadium.
Cities like Kolkata and the North-East have always enjoyed huge support with crowds filled to the brim for the league matches and Delhi being the beneficiary of a long gone team to cheer for, Goa has been a centre for immense support and fan activities.
While the newspaper headlines were talking about the success of ISL and the response in Kolkata, Guwahati and Delhi, FC Goa’s home game tickets were already sold out and the fans were busy preparing for a special welcome for the team the following day.
Writing chants, designing banners, and special installations around the city was taken upon by everybody as a part of their responsibility as the fans were plotting to give their team the best support and make it tough for the visiting Chennaiyin FC outfit.
Just as the team was formed, the fans from the city were up to forming groups to take the stadium by the storm and such was their early impact that a European channel approached them do a documentary on them.
Goa has always been known for the rich culture of football as the CM had also announced the sport as their official one sometime back and is present in the people’s blood. While clubs like Dempo SC, Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar FC failed to build that connect being named after family names, Sporting Clube de Goa’s late coming made them enjoy a lower fan base. The presence of four teams also confused people to loyalty for one and hence, as it panned out, people did not really connect too well with any.
Taking cue from the 2013-14 attendance stats, Dempo SC, Churchill Brothers, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa were ranked 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th in the charts with average attendances of 2542, 2450, 2421 and 1608 respectively. While this is one stat to go with, the other suggests that the Goans packed the house in a stadium with a little over 25,000 capacity for their season opener against Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League on the 15th of October.
In what was a picturesque moment, the fans went to the extent of having their profile pictures on social media as the FC Goa club crest and even the Harley Davidson Group in Goa set off for a rally to support FC Goa in numbers and across the city.
The craze for the game was such that people went to the extent of buying replica jerseys which were sold in such huge number that it resulted into shortage of them. The fans were well seated before the game in their jerseys, carrying an FC Goa flag and banner. Chants of Ole Ole FC Goa and Forca Goa were buzzing in the ground.
To add to this, the fan groups had come with 3-4 songs for the team already before the game.
The atmosphere in the stadium was quite evident even on TV and the fans left no stone unturned to spur their side to not let their shoulders drop despite a 2-0 trail at the end of the first half. This was quite evident in the goal that the team managed to score. But as it panned, the team lost and in what was an incident anonymous to European club games, a few fans seemed to have tears in their eyes owing to their team’s defeat.
This is for the fans, even the club wasn’t too far behind installing big balls around the state in addition to hoardings, banners carrying the team and asking fans to come and cheer them on. The enthusiasm seems to have transpired and the football crazy city of Goa seems to have finally found a team they can relate to and stay loyal.
While this is just the start, some fan groups have already decided to book away tickets for certain games and plan a mob in case FC Goa manages to reach the semi finals and the finals.
In what was one the best pictures depicting the ardent following by the fans, a guy put balls in his farms to show support for the game and the team.
If the momentum stays, it is certain that FC Goa fans will emerge as one of the best and the team will never miss out on the decibel levels.