Hoardings supporting the home team, giant football on display in Gowthampura
It was around noon on Thursday and there was feverish activity as giant hoardings were being put up in support of Brazil, just hours before the official start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The host country Brazil may be the cynosure of football fans the world over, but Bangalore’s proud football hub, Gowthampura, does not disappoint. Widely known as ‘Little Brazil’, almost every household here boasts of someone who can ‘bend it like Beckham’.
With touch up to the famous Pele statue at the entrance to the area, another addition – a giant football – was being made to the grand display, alongside the statues of B.R. Ambedkar and Mother Teresa.
“We will set up a giant screen here, so that football enthusiasts can watch the matches together,” said S. Ravi, the artist who made the eight-foot high fibre football.
But will they watch all the matches everyday, given they will be aired live late night? “We will watch only Brazilian team’s matches,” asserted Janardhan V. (22), who has been playing ‘the beautiful game’ for 10 years and has represented Karnataka at the sub-junior level.
Karthick Ronaldhino has his favourite player’s name and face tattooed on him. “Football comes once in four years, so I can sacrifice my sleep,” he said.
There is a sprinkling of female players too, like Kritika Kadiravan, a first PU student who plays for the local team. She hails from a family of soccer players, with her father playing for the National team and her brother for the State team.
It is not hard to find gurus in Gowthampura, remarks Satish Kumar (24), a professional footballer.
Having played for India’s under-17 team and the prestigious Mohun Bagan squad for two years , he said the introduction of the Bengaluru FC has managed to grab more spectators in the city.
A procession was carried out later in the day from Gouthampura through M.G. Road and Ashok Nagar, complete with jersey clad participants, the Brazilian flag and the WC trophy. These jerseys, costing anywhere from Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,300, are in high demand this time, vendors on Brigade Road said. Jerseys of Brazil, Spain, Australia and Germany are the hot-sellers, they said.
Shanthinagar MLA N.A Harris, also in a jersey, promised to encourage football in Bangalore and improve facilities at Gouthampura football ground.