Club football and Indian Premier League (IPL) season has ended, not the enthusiasm of sportlovers in Pune. Appetite whetted, football fans are getting ready for more adrenalin rush. For that, many are willing to fly across the globe and Brazil beckons them. Facebook photos are changing hues with flags and squads of favourite football countries grabbing attention ahead of the kick-off of the FIFA World Cup 2014 on June 12.
Pune has a considerable football fan-following and the tribe has been growing in determination and numbers for over two decades now.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are well-known and have adherents across age-groups, though the craze is growing fast among the young. The craze is not restricted to TV interface and computer game stimuli. Weekend football matches spill out the football enthusiasm from screens to the ground.
If Brazil is not far away for wide-screen TV buffs, there are many in Pune who want to catch the action live from near, right at the ring.
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One family stands out in their love of the game. Apurva Nagpal, 43, of Pune has not missed a single Football World Cup since 1998. He is headed for Brazil with his family. His father who is 65, and mother who is 68 would be watching the game with him, he says. About the action from up close, Nagpal says, “The feeling is just amazing. I am a huge football fan.”
He is “football secular” too. His loyalty is for the game and not a particular team. “I rooted for Spain the last time, not because I am a fan; but because they were playing really well,” says Nagpal.
He adds this World Cup is special because of the popularity of the game in Brazil.
Though, this time there are no official bookings by FIFA in other countries, ‘Cox & Kings’ are authorized sales agents of FIFA. Their ticket inclusive of hospitality package is available beginning from $1550.
“Many are going from Pune, but it is against our policy to reveal names. Obviously, it is one of the biggest events and we have got calls from all parts of the city,” said
Kishore Tidke, branch in-charge of Cox & Kings, Pune. Sujay Sharma, 30, coach of the under-15 Pune Football Club team said he is looking forward to an amazing experience in Brazil.
This is Sujay’s third World Cup. Sujay, a supporter of Germany and Bayern Munich is an analyst and technical assistant for Mahindra Football Club and Pune FC. “Approximately 2500 people are going for the World Cup from India. My friends from Mumbai are coming along as well. This time, I’m going with my wife. We have travel on our minds as well because of the diverse locations of these matches,” said Sujay.
Pune Football Club (PFC) and Pune District Football Association (PDFA) are not sending any of their players officially for the World Cup. PDFA secretary Pradeep Pardeshi said, “Nothing has been decided yet. No officials, no players are going.”
Mobile app launched for that extra kick Extentia Information Technology, a firm based in Pune has launched a mobile application for the Brazil World Cup.
The application, Football Schedule for Brazil 2014, allows the user to follow football’s greatest spectacle on iOS and Android-based cellphones. The user can catch every match with this comprehensive app and get game results on-the-go. One can immediately know how one’s favourite teams fared at the World Cup with this mobile guide to match schedules, standings, and venues.
As the competition unfolds, the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final match-ups will be revealed. The time slots for these games have already been determined, allowing fans to organize their calendars.