Sourav Ganguly column: Why fans are India's big source of inspiration

 

Sourav Ganguly column: Why fans are Indias big source of inspiration

People have often asked me how the Indian fans outnumber fans of any country across the globe

By Sourav Ganguly

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Published: Tue 25 Jun 2019, 4:09 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Jun 2019, 6:12 PM

Any sporting event is incomplete without fans and they are not only an integral part but also a major source of off-ground inspiration for any sportsperson. The great performers like Maradona, Pele, Federer, Tendulkar, Kohli, they all strive to succeed at the highest level and ultimately do. And their first expression of ecstasy is always shared with the fans. They are the ones who provide that extra pump for any sporting personality to succeed and surely leave memories which remain etched forever.
I still remember the night of April 2, 2011. India won the World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium and after completing my official work I got out to get back to the hotel. It was a sea of people and there was absolute delirium on the roads. The car hardly moved. There was a very famous Bollywood actor that day with me in the same car. Once the fans made out that we two were in the car they got extra wild with joy, rocked our car, got on top of it and danced on it to express their feeling of joy. 
After all, India had won the World Cup after a gap of 28 years. At one point, I felt I would miss my early morning flight because the car wasn't moving an inch! Luckily the driver, after much struggle, somehow managed to just drive us to a small hotel next door, which on a normal day would be just 5 minutes' walk from Wankhede. From there, I managed to get out through the back door of the hotel and went to the airport through a different route whereas the actor decided to stay back there for the night. This will remain with me forever. 
Even the Indian commentators face challenges while reaching and leaving stadiums before and after their commentary stints. The fans definitely take note of them, approach them for selfies or autographs or may be just to shake hands and one cannot deny them. I will never say that such situations are not enjoyed by the commentators!
I have witnessed that wherever India plays, the Indian fans just take over. I remember in the 2002 Natwest final, the Englishmen were outnumbered at the home of cricket. In 2015 in Melbourne, India were playing South Africa and the entire stadium was a sea of blue. It is the same in England in 2019. 
It was very surprising that in Manchester it was blue all over and I say this because Manchester has a sizeable number of Pakistanis residing in Yorkshire.
People have often asked me how the Indian fans outnumber fans of any country across the globe.
Firstly, the Indians are extremely passionate about cricket. Also, there is a huge population of Indians staying across the globe and for them to travel to various places at times is much easier than the others. Suppose the World Cup is happening in West Indies not many Australians will plan a trip to the Caribbean because it takes more than 24 hours of flight travel. Whereas for the Indians staying in huge numbers in the US it is just a 5-hour flight, a sort of Kolkata-Mumbai-Kolkata air travel. 
So, they plan their holidays in a way that includes watching India matches.
This year itself, I was in Nottingham where India were to play New Zealand. I met a group of 20 Indians from the US who had come down for a week to UK and their schedule included India matches. Therein lies the answer.
I have witnessed major football events, like the World Cup final, Champions League final but have never witnessed such disparity of supporters as is evident in the world of cricket. Imagine the pressure Indian cricketers carry with them! (Gameplan)
 


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