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Interview with Vijay Bharadwaj - "Dream come true to watch Bayern Munich stars in training"

Vijay Bharadwaj recounts his experience of watching Bayern Munich train in Doha, and talks about Indian football fans and the 2022 World Cup

Vijay, far right, the Bayern Munich fan from India who met the team during their winter training in Doha

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the local organizing committee of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, hosted Bayern Munich fans from Germany and across Middle East and Asia during Bayern Munich's winter training in Doha. Mr. Vijay Bharadwaj, the winner of the contest conducted by Sportskeeda and a Bayern Munich fan, travelled to Doha to see the team train during their winter break.

We spoke to Vijay about his experience during the trip and his message for Indian football fans. 

How did you come to be a Bayern Munich fan?

It was very late for me, because in India football is not the most popular sport. I started watching football properly when I was 13 years old during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, so the team I decided to follow was Germany, since Philipp Lahm's goal [in the opening game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup against Costa Rica] made me fall in love with him.

I came to know about club football 3 years later and found out he [Lahm] was playing for a club called Bayern Munchen and since then I have been supporting Bayern.

And now that you had the chance to see him up close, what were your impressions of the training session?

It was a dream come true to be able to watch my favourite stars in their training session, up close and personal. They are dedicated and there is a reason they play for Bayern Munchen, [they are] world class. They deserve to be where they are.

What about your experience in Qatar? Did you like it and what do you think can be improved in next 7 years?

Well, I can't comment much on the improvement since it's still improving as we speak. But the thing I like most is the infrastructure, the way buildings are presented, both from inside and outside. It's a very clean and organised city. At the same time however, history is embraced [in Qatar] and is still carried on in spite of modernisation, which is a good thing - we cannot just forget our past while going into the future.

Vijay in line with other fans to get an autograph from Bayern Munich superstar Xabi Alonso 

Do you think a lot of Indian football fans will come to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, since this is a close flight away?

Yes, definitely, because it is quite economical in consideration to Europe or any of the Americas, be it North America or South America. Also, the time difference is not too much and travel time is also less. I'm pretty much certain there would be at least a good number of fans who would turn out to see their favourite national team if India doesn't qualify, hopefully they do.

Is this the closest World Cup India will have for fans to travel and come and watch?

Yes, because Japan [2002 FIFA World Cup] is not as close as Qatar is.

What is your message to Indian fans about the experience you've had here – the welcome and how people have received you?

It's a very friendly environment and people are very welcoming and warm hearted. I would definitely recommend any Indian fan to come here. They should come and check the sports infrastructure along with the museums as well as the buildings around because it's a marvel to see how good and beautiful it looks, as well as how organised it is.

Last question, explain to us the two different clubs you've got on your chest?

The jacket I'm wearing is of my hometown club, Bengaluru FC, based in Bengaluru, India. The reason for that is, though I supported Bayern since I was 15 years old, I will not forget where I'm from. Hence, I carry my hometown colours wherever I go – you could say this [Bengaluru FC] is my home club and this [Bayern Munich] is my away club and I love both equally.

Watch the full interview here:

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