Why Manjapadda is important for Indian football?
Quoting captain Sunil Chetri: ‘If you think football is not popular in India, then you should go to Kochi and watch a Kerala Blasters game.’
In a country like India, where cricket is considered to be the dominant sport, the Kerala Blasters and its fans give hope for Indian football.
The picture given below is that of the Kerala supporters from the recently concluded match in Bengaluru’s Sree Kanteerava stadium. According to official figures, around 13,000 Kerala fans are said to have attended the match in Bengaluru. Unofficial figures state that there were more. Thousands have travelled all the way from Kerala for this match. All of this despite the team’s performance over the last two seasons.
Name any fan club in this country (including cricket), who has such a dedicated fan community?
So the common argument for the number of Kerala supporters in Bangalore is the huge number of Malayali population that is present in Bangalore. Okay. agreed. But definitely not more than the number of Kannadigas right ? Then why haven’t their own people have come out to support their team in such large numbers. Let’s leave all that. This is not to targer or demean the fans of other clubs. We have only respect for the fans who support football.
Manjapadda is not merely any fan community. It is an organized family that is spread across the country and even across continents, with organised WhatsApp groups in each city/state, conducting their own off season programs, charity events, football tournaments and so on.
So Manjapadda is not just about thousands of fans in yellow shouting after a particular team, it is also part of a movemet that is helping Indian football grow. Even for matches played by the Indian Football team, Manjapadda has made their hige presence felt in the stands, carrying banners, welcoming them in the airport, arranging processions to the stadium and so on. Remember, the yellows were present even when India played in Tajikistan.
When other fan clubs in India are attacking Manjapadda, they should also realize that if Manjapadda and Kerala Blasters were not there, then ISL wouldn’t have got half the popularity it has.
If you notice, the attendance in club football matches in Kerala are more than the attendance at other stadiums for ISL matches. For Indian football to grow, fan clubs like Manjapadda does have an important role to play.
This is not just about Kerala football. This is about Indian football as well. Take pride in the fact that Manjapadda has proved that Indians also love football and that football matches in India can also have a full house.
Continue to fill the stands. Louder and Prouder.
– Korah Abraham