Virat Kohli ( cricketer) battling Abhishek Bachchan (actor)

Virat Kohli ( cricketer) battling Abhishek Bachchan (actor)

Continued from Part 1Ai??

The new crop was on the rise. Indian Cricket Team’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won us the cricket World Cup after eons of wait. John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan were successful in the Bollywood industry and football became a regular hangout sport for the Bollywood as well as the cricketers.

Although as discussed before, this new generation was already infused with a sense of footballing passion, their love for football boomed even further. Ranbir Kapoor was seen taking selfies with Lionel Messi. The father and son duo of Amitabh and Abhishek regularly tweeted about their love for Chelsea and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni publicly expressed his love for Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo.Ai??This footballing surge – as in famous faces following a football club, was key in a country obsessed with cricket. These few but loyal and passionate footballing faces developed a sense of ‘cool’ in following football.Ai??Although, a small niche’d population of ardent football fans still opening exercised their right to display love for their colors, a large majority was untouched and remained alienated to the beautiful game.

Football as it stands, was on the rise. Although, it still failed to strike a chord with the seniority present in the society, it did find harmony and peace with young blood.Ai??The population of football followers increased drastically, in what could be termed as a mass exodus. Though the numbers of fans did not reach as high as the transition from national sport hockey to cricket in the mid 1980s, a vast population of youth started following the beautiful game.

Social media was one of the main sources to promote and infact played a protagonist for once,football, as it helped create a buzz of footballing network – connecting newborn Indian footballing fans with the experienced cookies of Europe and the World.Ai??If technicalities be observed, internet was massively responsible for infusing a sense of passion, respect, and code in the young prudent football generation.Ai??The love for football was at Ai??all new high on social media. GGMUs, KTBFFHs, were phrases constantly been used by fans to display their identity when it came to football.

The love for foreign football was reaching it’s zenith, but in this process, neglected the country’s own football.Ai??Excluding the ‘filled to the brim’ stadiums of Bengal and Goa, fans rarely flocked to follow Indian Football, in general. Lack of awareness mixed with lack of proper exposure to the Indian League, succumbed Indian Football to the shadows once again.Ai??The country’s football team also suffered a purple patch in September 2012, as it dropped to 169th position – the lowest ever position in India’s footballing history.Ai??Bhaichung Bhutia was long gone and the man to carry his mantle for Sunil Chhetri. Chhetri like Bhaichung was another figure which grew in stature with football. The former became associated with football as the latter did – in the early 2000s.Ai??India finally had two footballing faces, Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung Bhutia. As compared to the eleven of cricket, football as it seems was still struggling .Ai??While Bhutia spent time off the pitch – promoting sport through his activities, Chhetri captivated the hearts and minds of the few Indian Football followers.

Ranbir Kapoor with Lionel Messi

Ranbir Kapoor with Lionel Messi

The number of foreign footballing supporters hugely outnumbered the Indian footballing supporters. But, football was on the rise and the country which had almost no interest in football around the early 2000s changed its inertia and started experiencing the beautiful game.

Football was being slowly and gradually adopted by the country, though it still remained secondary to cricket. A celebrity football match between the Indian Cricket team and the stars of Bollywood clearly expressed the desire these few famous faces had to promote football, but it also showcased a much more bigger and brighter picture. India had opened thoughts to football.Ai??There was a buzz of footballing air all over the country, if not literal then excessively over the social media and other platforms. Famous faces started openly expressing their thoughts on Football, all over the world.Ai??A certain conversation which springs up to mind featured Indian Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, which includes him expressing his thoughts on how Manchester United would finish first. Surprisingly, this conversation took place in the Indian Premier League ( arguably country’s biggest tournament).

Change had been initiated. Change took place. Even when we were blabbering about how football was not seen as a premier sport, it slowly and gradually edged close to cricket, although it did not surpass the latter.Ai??Football tipped cricket? YES! If the young generation be exclusively considered, but as a general it did not, however budding scenarios of footballing experiences took place constantly between fathers and sons.

In 2012, Indian Football witnessed historic scenes as the Kolkata Premier League Soccer was announced. Much likes the Indian Super League nowadays, the Kolkata Premier League Soccer was a venture initiated by ‘big shot’ companies to buy football clubs. In an IPL like auction the six teams battled to get players such as Hernan Crespo, Robbie Fowler, current FC Goa marquee player Robert Pires and World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro. The first wave of footballing stars were on their way to India, when in January 2013,Ai??the Indian Football Association announced that it had withdrawn support for the venture, citing financial problems, the lack of suitable venues, and the unavailability of overseas players in the period the competition was to have been played. Although the Kolkata League was cancelled, it generated an interest among the masses that foreign players can come and ply their trade in India too.

The 2014 World Cup saw Indian television ratings boomblast, as the country partook in one of the World’s biggest sporting event. The World Cup attracted a lot of pedigree and heat from almost all parts of India. Even the unusual timings of the World Cup could not stop the frenzy which football had finally built among the masses. Although, these masses were highly polarized between the youth and some ( not huge) seniority, the change was happening.

Football soon became the second placed sport in India and only needed a jolt of lightning to bring it more closer to cricket – in terms of fan following, razzmatazz, fanfare and festivities.Ai??After numerous failed events such as the Premier League Soccer Ai??to launch the country’s first star studded football league ( purely in terms of the famous footballing names present, which the young fans had seen on screen) the Hero Indian Super League was announced to commence from 12th of October, though there were still talks of it being postponed.

And they rest as they say is history.

*****

The following article has been constructed to frame the timeline, which involves the merging together of Bollywood, Cricket and Football. A trend which is easily seen now a days in the Indian Super League.Ai??

Part 3 coming soon

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