In an effort to muster support from across the country for the Indian team, football fan group, the Blue Pilgrims, have started the #BedsForTravellingFans initiative on social media, as a way to provide easy accommodation for fans travelling to the host city
BENGALURU:The football fever is reaching its crescendo with the FIFA World Cup 2018 round the corner. In the country and in Bengaluru for the moment, fans are all prepped up for the Intercontinental Cup set to take place on June 1 in Mumbai
In order to muster support from across the country for the national team, the Blue Pilgrims - a fan group comprising supporters from different regional clubs including those of the Bangalore Football Club or BFC - have started a novel initiative.
On social media, the fan group has started the #BedsForTravellingFans hashtag initiative as a way to provide easy accommodations for fans travelling to the host city. The ultimate aim for this initiative is to create a "travelling fan culture" across the country who will provide the support needed for the Indian team.
When India played Kyrgistan in Bengaluru as part of the AFC Cup qualifiers last year, a similar initiative was started by Bengaluru fans. "I myself hosted five supporters from Mumbai. It's always a joy to have them," says a member of Blue Pilgrims from Bengaluru who preferred staying anonymous.
Samyutkth Hemanth, a West Block Blues member, official fan club of BFC, highlighted how the idea in the city was inspired by an incident that took place last year in Germany.Fans of Broussia Dortmund football club started a #bedforawaybfans hashtag campaign for stranded Monaco (France) club fans last year when a Champions League clash between teams was postponed due to an untoward incident. The move was much appreciated worldwide.
During the under-17 World Cup hosted by India last year, the Blue Pilgrims fan group was formed. There were as many as 400 Blue Pilgrims who travelled for India's World Cup opener against the USA, and the number rose to 550 and 850 for the subsequent games against Colombia and Ghana respectively."It all started during this tournament. Fans would put aside their club allegiances and support the national team. The momentum has grown since then and we want it backed by all throughout the country. We have even created memes that highlight sentiments such as meeting in Mumbai for the tournament before rooting for a team at the the FIFA World Cup with #AndherPeMilna on social media," adds the Blue Pilgrims member.
Fans also travelled in large numbers to Goa last November to support the senior team in the Asian Cup qualifier against Myanmar. The idea is to replicate the same support given to respective football clubs to the Indian national football team.
While the recently-concluded IPL may have overshadowed publicity for the Intercontinental Cup, it has not fettered football fans. A minimum of 30 fans are sure to travel from Bengaluru. Many are also coming from Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. "From what we have seen on social media, many fans in Mumbai are eager to host others coming from different parts of the country," says the Blue Pilgrims member. A few hundred fans are sure to land in Mumbai from various parts of the country.
Sivam Kohli, a third-year BBA student and a die hard BFC fan who has travelled to other parts of the country for both club and national team matches says that an initiative such as this, is very helpful especially for students. “We are all aware of the sky-high accomodation rates in Mumbai. However, besides accomodation it is more about interacting with fellow fans from other states. Going to the game together, taking about their respective clubs and players and then finally supporting one team as a whole is quite an experience in itself," he says.