It’s hard growing up as a football fan in a country that is predominantly obsessed with cricket.
But, in the past decade, there is no doubt that we have seen tremendous growth in the following of this beautiful game in India.
Now, in 2022, it is safe to say that the football landscape in India is at its peak.
These days, it’s not uncommon to venture out onto the streets of metropolitan cities in India and spot fans nearly all the top European football clubs donning their favourite club's jerseys with pride.
Moreover, there are fan clubs – officially recognized fan clubs – of not just the top Premier League clubs, but also mid-table clubs. I, personally, have stumbled upon the Indian fan pages of clubs like Newcastle United, West Ham United, Wolves, just to name a few.
In this day and age, you can easily shop for your favorite football team's jersey not just on display in the depths of your local markets, but also on Instagram and Facebook, with many vendors taking to social media to bring Indians closer to European football while expanding their businesses.
Just a decade back, cricket debates used to take center stage in conversation on sports among all age groups, whereas now, the beautiful game has gained a lot of attention among all age-groups in our country. You can easily hear football talks in common areas, be it office breaks, the school courtyard, or a social gathering, a football lover is all but guaranteed to stumble upon either a Messi-Ronaldo debate or a handful of Fantasy Premier League managers, hotly debating who to pick in their teams. I’m overwhelmed when I look back at this beautiful journey in which all of us have had a part to play in order to make football relevant in our country.
Unfortunately, it was not as simple back in the day as it is now.
I still remember only one channel on cable TV used to broadcast European football games in the early 2000s. It was hard to convince one’s parents to take up football coaching in a country where every parent wanted their child to become the Next Ganguly or Dravid or Sachin or Dhoni.
It was hard to find kids in your own friends' circle who wanted to play football rather than cricket or badminton. My story is no different. If it weren’t for an unexpected gift from a relative on my birthday and a copy of FIFA along with a Playstation 2 console, I probably wouldn’t be a Manchester United fan today.
But here I am! A part of an officially recognized supporters' club-MUSC Red Devils NCR, a writer who just wants to express his love for Manchester United, an overly enthusiastic FPL manager, and always inspired by Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.
My story, in essence, is no different from any of the football fans in India. We might support different clubs or players, but we're similar in many ways with regards to our journey as fans, I'm sure.
Now, I have a platform to express my story! This is an ode to myself, for never giving up on my love for this beautiful game!
Stay tuned for more!
Written by: Parth Tiwari for the MUSC Red Devils NCR
90min India has partnered with MUSC Red Devils NCR fan group to bring Manchester United content to you from the keen eye of fans of the club.
We will be partnering with many other fan groups of other clubs across India in the near future to contribute to our vision of being a one-of-a-kind fan-led website in India. The above article is just the beginning. Do join us in this movement!