The love for Football knows no boundaries in Kolkata as they celebrate the sport with street-ART
West Bengal in general, and Kolkata in particular, is known to be the hotbed of Indian football, with the country's most die-hard football fans representing their city with great pride and fervour. Apart from the fanatical following enjoyed by arch rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, the city of Kolkata lives and breathes football, and teams across the world are supported fervently.
In today's digital world, people tend to get lost in online forums, spending their time engrossed in digital games and on social networks. The people of Kolkata, however, want to change that and are keen to continue the city's tradition of being the country's most enthusiastic football base. The 'para' culture that exists, helps foster the bond of community and togetherness as people from different paras (neighbourhoods) come together to play football.
The city's community football network has trained many famous footballers to develop at a young age, helping them realise their passion for the sport, before they went on to play for the city's clubs and eventually, India. Maintaining this tradition and giving the present and future generations a proper platform for realising their passion for football was the foremost goal of the #DonateAWall initiative.
Asian Paints, in association with St+art India Foundation, began the #DonateAWall initiative, wherein communities were asked for permission to donatea wall. This wall would then have evocative artwork drawn on it to help bring people together, with each artwork telling its own story.
Thanks to social worker Nilanjan Chakroborty's efforts, one such community came forward and donated a wall to this noble cause of encouraging community footballers by allowing them to paint one such wall adjacent to the football field. The ingenious idea that Nilanjan then came up with Asian Paints was to paint caricatures of legendary footballers, some of whom had even played in Kolkata. The idea of painting their role models and personal heroes on the wall was to encourage youngsters to continue pursuing football and encourage other youngsters to take up the sport.
The wall was adorned with beautiful paintings of legends like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronalo, Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri, among others, which connected very well with the locals. Sure enough, community footballers welcomed the initiative, stressing the point that they picked up the sport from their parents and grandparents, and that witnessing their idols right next to them, inspires them and motivates them to take the sport seriously.
The ongoing U-17 World Cup in India has provided a major boost to the sport's following in the country and the Indian team's encouraging performance has helped young children understand how big and rewarding football can be. The 2017 version of the U-17 World Cup is all set to break records of spectator attendance in stadiums as well as the number of total goals scored.
Fans have thronged the stadium to support youngsters from around the world. With 12,24,027 people already having attended the matches, the earlier record of 12,30,976 set in 1985 is on the verge of being broken, with the third place match and the final, both taking place in Kolkata. It is this enthusiasm and interest that has existed in Kolkata for a long time which has manifested it in the form of spectators rushing to the stadium.
Initiatives like Asian Paints and St+art India Foundation's #DonateAWall are very important to help the sport of football grow and proliferate to all parts of India. And if Kolkata’s craze for the sport is anything to go by, #DonateAWall has done an amazing job to helptruly change the way the sport is viewed and followed!