Taking a leaf out of the IPL and keeping the dwindling popularity of the Santosh Trophy in mind, the Tamil Nadu Football Association (TFA) has roped in local cheerleaders to attract crowds during the championship. In fact, the idea seems to have paid off to some extent.
Not as glamorous as the ones who performed at the Bullring or the SuperSport Park in the not-too-distant past, these Chennai-based dancers perform during the breather and whenever a team scores a goal. Clad in black, these dancers dance to Tamil tunes, especially on days when Tamil Nadu are playing.
In a funny incident, the cheerleaders found themselves at the receiving end of the crowds' fury during Tamil Nadu's match against Bengal on Tuesday. The visitors scored off an offside and the cheerleaders started dancing unaware of the happenings on the field, which angered the partisan crowd.
“We decided to have them during matches as we thought this would increase the turnout substantially,” said R. Rajasekaren, assistant secretary, TFA. Asked how the TFA got in touch with them, Rajasekaren said, “All of them are from the Flash Dance Academy in Chennai.
“Since the capacity of the stadium is nearly one lakh, having a packed house is out of question,” Rajasekaren said. But thanks to the local cheerleaders' presence, at least, one stand of the stadium remains full on all days.