Monday, 14 June 2010

Playing footsie with football

As the world is gripped by FIFA fever, cricket-crazy Indians are playing footsie with football . Though cricket is the first love of the nation, sexed-up soccer is catching on with a selected but a growing fraternity of fans.
The mother of all games, the 19th 2010 World Cup, has sent football fanatics on a psychedelic trip that will last till month end.
Bars, pubs and restaurants are in full swing to recreate soccer frenzy, thousands of miles away from South Africa, here in capital New Delhi-- All in an effort to tap the sentiment for business gains.
Giant screens beaming high voltage matches, rounds of beer to wash down dishes that have been named after soccer players or their countries are helping those to live and breathe excitement of 2010 World Cup live who have missed to be in South Africa around this time.
Blues pub at Connaught Place is among many that has literally turned into a mini stadium. As the sun goes down, football enthusiasts start pouring into the pub for a ‘kick’ on a 12x10 giant screen.
Flags of all the participating countries, nets, and footballs are either hanging from ceiling beams or on walls. You name your favourite player and chances are you would get a dish and a drink named after him. So punters are not only enjoying their favourite stars playing but are also relishing chewing on their names too!
There is a variety of meals to choose from the menu. To name a few, order from Messi’s delight grilled chicken fried or vegetables patty, Rooney’s fish and chips or Zamrota’s golden extravaganza pizza with grilled chicken, salami, bell peppers, black olives and wash them down with abundant beer, Kaka’s Kick Vodka or John Terry’s Banana Kick of Bacardi and Blue Cerecao.
But what seems to be tickling the punter’s taste buds is the sizzler. Waiters with Ts of their favourite teams are serving piping hot platters on almost every table and replenishing beer glasses. As the momentum picks up, more and more orders of drinks are ordered in the backdrop of the loud music that is helping to build the atmosphere. People edgy on their seats with eyes glued on TV watch the next second-by-second action while mechanically gulping down drinks.
There are gasps as a goal is missed by their favourite teams, some resort to swearing even and some just sigh. Immersed in the live action, spectators just become oblivious of their surroundings and enjoy each and every action followed by their verbal exclamations.
“If you look closely Fifa matches reflect human characteristics—the good and the ugly, ruthless, selfish, team spirit, you just have to observe it. One can identify himself with the game and the players,” says one football enthusiast who has grown up watching the world cup for three decades.
Referring to the punters at the bar, he says, “these are the loyal football fans no matter what they would come here to catch the frenzy.”
But its weekends when the bar is chock-a-block with people. “On the first day of the match on June 11, our bar was jam-packed. Over 200 people came on that day,” said Naveen Kumar, manager of Blues. Saturday and Sunday were no different too. And the sale went up by about 25 per cent.
The ecstasy of the sport carnival seems to remain in the air till the winning team lifts the trophy. Meanwhile, people will love to flock to a place where they can soak in and share football mania with their mates. Most importantly, “to watch good game irrespective of which team they support,” says another football enthusiast.

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