CHENNAI: Something new is being witnessed in Chennai these days. While the people here are generally regarded as sports-loving, most of it is showered on cricket. Of late, football has also drawn the numbers, following the arrival of Indian Super League. To witness what is new, one has to visit the JN Stadium. The Pro Kabaddi League is going on there and thousands are turning up for the games.
Ticket prices are not prohibitive, but it’s still a substantial Rs 300 per head. It has been no deterrent, with the opening day witnessing a turnout of nearly 3500. It’s not a bad number considering that the capacity of the stadium is 5000. Even on weekdays after that, the footfall has been a steady 3000.
Not that all of them are supporting Tamil Thalaivas. When the local team played on Tuesday, the crowd were screaming for Rahul Chaudhari of Telugu Titans. “People cheering was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect this response from the fans in such a crucial moment for both the teams,” said the Titans raider, who has been playing for the same franchise since the first season.
On Wednesday, there were a bunch of surprise visitors in the form of a group of 15 from Denmark. Pursuing undergraduate courses in Logistics and Mobility at IIT Madras, they had showed up to the venue to savour the experience. Wonder what the banner they were holding read? ‘Danish fans of Tamil Thalaivas’.
“I have never seen a kabaddi match. The atmosphere is unique and fantastic. In our country, we don’t play this game, but it’s good to sit along with the crowd whose energy has no limits. When I go to our country, I will share this experience as it is a memorable one for me. We came to know about today’s fixtures while reading newspapers,” said Alex Christiansen, a Thalaivas fan from Denmark.
The stands were filled with families, children and students. The energy and excitement was palpable. “My kids are interested in this game. They wanted to see the match, so we brought them here. Also, I like this game. I don’t follow the sport but I’m here to cheer the Thalaivas,” said a female fan.A kabaddi player was also present in the stadium to support the Thailavas. Priyanka, who is a defender for Tamil Nadu, was there to see and learn from the international players.
“I have been waiting for this chance. I bought the ticket from my pocket money. I am passionate about this sport and want to play like Ajay Thakur for the country. My favourite Thalaivas player is skipper Thakur, for his tremendous raiding tactics,” she said.