“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.” — Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp donned the Arsenal colors from 1995–2006. He went on to become a legend of the club. Unfortunately, his playing years where before my time and I have only been able to watch videos from the past. Legend he definitely is!
I found myself in quite an unusual spot one day, when realization dawned on me, I was in the middle of a sports bar cheering with all my heart for a football club with strangers. To bring you up to speed as to why this was a big deal for me, I am socially awkward, or at least that’s what I think. This was when I knew what Bergkamp had meant precisely!
A few months ago, there was this frenzy about a game between Bangalore FC (BFC) and Chennaiyin FC, my friend and I we decided to go. We were skeptical about the game from the start as Indian football wasn’t up to the mark yet and wasn’t as exciting. Incidentally, Sunil Chetri heard ours and million other Indians thoughts and he shared a video on social media that asked for our support that caught on like wildfire. To bring in context, Chetri is an Indian football captain and legend, and he plays for BFC. He is one of the best things to happen to Indian football. His video saw a comprehensive response with people filling the stadium in huge numbers. The stadium was filled to the brim with fans cheering and showing their love for their team and the sport. This experience was the closest I got to enjoying a game of club football live and cross my heart I would love to do that every weekend.
Unlike a game of football between two countries where players play with passion and pride to be representing their country, what drives club football?
What motivates a fan to watch the game with all the enthusiasm in the world?
I got to answering these questions and a few more.
Basic facts, club football, is just a league with wealthy owners and their vested interests who only care about their money. While some owners see it that way, some know they don’t just own a club, they head a family.
Supporting a football club is a love affair, without your love and support the club ceases to exist. The club doesn’t know your existence, but all the fans and their support are what makes a club a club. It is a symbiotic relationship where the club gives you community, and in return, you make the club worthy.
Club football breaks through boundaries. It doesn’t matter from which part of the world you are, it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in, or what your sexual orientation is, it doesn’t matter what your skin color is. If you have found a club that resonates with you, you have found a family which you didn’t know existed.
A football club is more than just a crest with a stadium, wealthy owners and a bunch of players. The club’s ideals, the values its fosters and its followers (who are the fans) is what makes a club. It is a mega-sized self-sustaining living organism.
Football transcends everything, 22 men with a football at their feet can unite people, bring harmony and help shed light on major social issues. This might probably be the football fanatic deluded side of me, but I think football can solve half of the world’s problems and bring us together as one and help us see past our differences.