On Friday evening, the usually bustling fish market in Chittaranjan Park wore a deserted look. Meetings were rescheduled, dates were cancelled and children didn’t venture out to play as the mini Kolkata of Delhi was hooked to TV screens on Friday night to watch the Argentina versus Venezuela match, featuring soccer superstar Messi, held at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata.
The football crazy Bengalis got a chance to get closer to their favourite sport as the country has never hosted a FIFA-sanctioned match between the two Latin American countries before.
“The plans for the match began 10 days ago. We are all football crazy people and there’s an old saying that if five Bengalis gather at one place, there has to be a sweet shop, a Kalibari and football,” said Sohinie Mukherjea, a freelance writer.
The Bengali dominated area in south Delhi, set up in late in 1960s to accommodate refugees from East Pakistan (Bangladesh), still keeps the Bengali tradition alive by organising the biggest Durga Pujas in north India and restaurants in the area still serve authentic Bengali delicacies.
“There couldn’t have been a better place than Kolkata, the city that gave birth to India’s oldest football club, Mohun Bagan AC in 1889 and the passion for the game, to host this match,” added Mukherjea. The Messi mania gripped the south Delhi neighbourhood and the area observed a post sun-down bandh. Despite it being Durga Puja season, no one stepped out of home for shopping.
“I’m excited. When you get to watch the prince of football in action, that too in your own native city, you ought to be excited. The madness for the sport among Bengalis knows no bounds,” said Sharbani Banerji, who hails from Kolkata. Chittaranjan Park, Delhi’s mini kolkata wore a deserted look on Friday night as Kolkata hosted the biggest ever football match. Bengalis love football.