Life of a minority  

Comic Bhavneet Singh talks about the perils of being a club football fan in a country that worships cricket

Published: 19th May 2022 12:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2022 09:13 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: If cricket is a religion in India, I am a religious minority. Being a club football supporter is no easy business in India, especially at the business end of the season.Unlike cricket, which is streamed, screened and followed across the country, football is mostly screamed (at), sometimes streamed and followed by just a handful of people.It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that more people in India still use Nokia 1100 than follow club football.

But we do exist, in our six-member WhatsApp groups with dark circles under our eyes and a hope in our heart that someday we’ll find one more person to add to the WhatsApp group. While staying up late and watching crunch games is something that we football fans have become used to, it’s our family members and neighbours that still struggle to come to terms with it.

Imagine watching Virat Kohli needing 18 runs off the last 3 balls in a world cup final. Now imagine he actually pulls it off but the only way you’re allowed to celebrate is by whispering because it is 3 am and no one cares. That’s the life of a football fan.

I’m no stranger to a neighbour knocking at my door late in the night because it is easy to interpret my goal celebrations (table banging, bursts of shouting and an occasional falling of things) to be violence of some sorts based on the sounds. And ever since the Netflix documentary House of Secrets, people have been even more on edge.

On a few occasions that a match somehow is being played on Indian time and you and your entire WhatsApp group of six people (there’s more people in a cricket team) decide to watch it somewhere, that particular channel is not subscribed by the ‘sports bar’ because who even watches it. In fact, my worst screening experience as a football fan came when despite the channel being available, the venue decided to not tune in to the match because Bangladesh was playing Zimbabwe in a test match. I’m pretty sure people in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe were watching Suryavansham on Set Max instead but that’s just how much we love cricket around here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to diss cricket (I like living). All I’m saying is, be nice to a football fan if you ever come across one. They go through enough. And if you see them post something about a match that you don’t understand, it’s okay, just ignore them like you ignore your pot belly while standing in front of the mirror. And to all the club football supporters out there (in post-apocalyptic radio voice) you are not alone. Hang in there.


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