I still remember the day when I went to see a football match for the first time. The venue, Lal Bahadoor Stadium Kollam, was a smaller one. I was with Unni maman (maternal uncle), the tournament was Scissors Cup. We were at the gallery. It was drizzling, but it did't affect the spirit of the crowd. By the time the game finished, the whole stadium was wet.
I knew nothing about the game then, other than that you have to score goals to win. When I was a child, my kochachan (paternal uncle) had dictated me two answers. He would ask me, "Jayichathaaraa?" (Who won?) for which I’ll say, "Germany." Then he’d ask "Goal adichathaaraa?" (Who hit the goal?) for which I’ll say "Maradona." And the whole family would laugh!
Everyone of my family, from my 78-year-old grandfather to my sister, are football fans, but I was no hard-core follower of the game. During the 98 soccer world cup, I prepared an album entirely relying on newspapers. I didn’t see even the finals, which was telecast at midnight. I had a very tough time acting in front of my friends that I really saw the match.
Scissors Cup died away, and so did Kerala’s own football club FC Cochin. Two years ago was the last time I went to see a match. Venue was Kollam. I was with my Dad. Then the number of spectators was far less.
Then a World Cup came. The final was on my 18th birthday. Brazil won their fifth cup. Ronaldo was the hero. It was the first televised match I completely saw.
What I expected in Kochi and what I saw there contrasted heavily. Imported variety of "cheer girls" were there, a thing which is alien to the Kerala football scenario. There used to be a time when Santosh Trophy was held in makeshift stadiums, and the entire structure swayed due to the spectators standing up to cheer the players.
These "cheer girls" in their meager clothing does not even serve the purpose of an "item number." Another result of commercialisation of the game. We no longer have the adrenalin for the game. Instead of providing cure, the concerned ones are giving hallucinogens.