Football unites expats from across borders in Pune
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Football unites expats from across borders in Pune

City expats share how they miss being with family and friends and watching matches during Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) world cup 2018

pune Updated: Jun 23, 2018 21:09 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Brazil fans cheer for the team during one of the matches at 1730 cafe in Koregaon Park. (SHANKAR NARAYAN/HT PHOTO)

Japanese students Daichi Yamazaki, 23, and Soul Hiratsuka, 23, are excited about Japan making it to the first round of the group matches for Fifa 2018. They animatedly discuss the various passes and the moves made by their star player Yuto Nagatomo.

“Yuya Osako’s 73rd minute winning goal against Columbia was simply brilliant. It is not easy to win against such a powerful team, like Columbia. We had lost 1-4 to them in 2014. We were defeated badly in Brazil,” said Yamazaki. They add that Japan won because of good ball passing skills. Hiratsuka said, “I am looking forward to the next match to see how Nagatomo will perform.”

Both are also eager to see Osako in action on Sunday in their next match with Senegal.

Like them, several other expats in the city are rooting for their home countries in the ongoing football celebration. HT catches up with a few of them.

Samet Caliskan, 29, a working professional who hails from Turkey, is supporting team Senegal as it is their second time in this event and also because Turkey played the quarter final in 2002 with Senegal. “While back home in Turkey, when we watch a match together we get together in a crowd, armed with munchies, chips, and drinks and we get really loud while watching the match. Right now, I am missing this fun with my Turkish cousins and the various cafés in Istanbul where they are relaying the match.”

In Pune, Samet is usually catching up with Fifa matches at home, but if it is a good team playing, then he prefers heading to pubs where there are crowds cheering. He feels that Senegal will definitely have some wins to its credit.

Milan Pal, 37, from Germany and owner of city-based cafe Malzheit, said, “The next game that Germany plays is what we all are apprehensive about. The game for the Germans has not been so good so far and though we are excited, we are also worried, for Germans have never lost a match in the last 30 years. This match is very important, for it will decide the fate of the team. I am going to Germany next week to watch it with my friends at a public screening.”

Brazil fans Juliana Passos, 31; Fernanda Silva, 38; Deepak Punjwani, 30, and Sujata Manjhi, 30, all residing in Pune, cheered their team for the recent 2-0 win against Costa Rica.

“It was an unpredictable match and I am glad they scored during the extra time or it was all to head home. Brazil had lot of opportunities, but all they need to do is keep it cool,” said Juliana.

Deepak recalled, “Watching a match in Brazil is like the entire country forgets their problem and only has one thing on mind – Football. The entire city is set up like a carnival. People come together to cook, barbeque, eat, drink and enjoy watching the match together. There is this electrifying feeling of being in a stadium cheering for our home team.”

Kamil Pawlowicz, 28, from Poland, said he wants Spain to win the Cup. Pawlowicz said, “It is interesting to watch the matches here and also shocking how many people watch football in Pune. Many people know more about our national teams than us expats.”

He added, “In Poland or other countries in the Europe, there are usually organised outdoor setups to watch the matches, like in main market squares, which brings a lot of people, but here in Pune, you cannot complain about lack of places to see it. What is great here is that you usually spend time with people from various countries, so you are kind of bound to watch most of the matches.

A 34-year-old Massimiliano Pasini, said, “I am an Italian, and although we are not in the world cup this year, I am enjoy cheering for the other teams. Germany is in my heart and I want to see them in the finals.”

About watching the matches in Pune, he said, “I can say that football is the same everywhere. Even here in Pune, I saw the excitement of the people who are watching the matches. We often gather in pubs with the big screens and enjoy and it adds to the excitement when a different team scores a goal.

First Published: Jun 23, 2018 20:32 IST