Orange is colour of Pune ahead of FCPC semifinal first leg
The Orange Army is solely governed by the fans and the hierarchical system is something that is quite intriguing. The semifinal first leg between FC Pune city vs Bengaluru FC will take place on March 7 at 08:00 PMUpdated: Mar 06, 2018 17:32 IST
No football club is every truly complete without its fans. At the end of the day, it is referred to as the beautiful game, not only because of how riveting the on-field activity is, but also due to the atmosphere generated off it by the supporters.
The case is similar with FC Pune City (FCPC) as they have their very own supporters club branded the Orange Army. They have been the psychological backbone for the Maratha Stallions not only this season, but since their very first game in the Indian Super League (ISL) way back in 2014. Through thick and thin, the Orange Army has stood by their local team and in many ways, they feel that their faith has been rewarded by FCPC’s qualification for the final four.
Speaking about their ISL experience, the Orange Army refuses to have quotes attributed independently. The core coordinators group said, “In the first season a group of 21 fans got together to form a fan club with the help of FCPC CEO Gaurav Modwel. This is how the Orange Army came into existence. Then we decided to connect 21 fans under the programme ‘each one twenty one’ and rest is history. Currently, we have a strong fan base of around 5,000 supporters in Pune.”
The Orange Army is solely governed by the fans and the hierarchical system is something that is quite intriguing. Four core members - Devesh Sharma, Akshay Amritanshu, Venkatesh Bhandare and Ashish Gawas – have worked day in and day out to ensure the smooth flow of events, but tend not to refer to themselves as “leaders” or “heads”. According to them, the club equally belongs to each and every member, and that it must always be put ahead of their individual needs.
Tying up with the management of FCPC, the Orange Army has travelled to nearly every ISL city in the country, cheering the Maratha Stallions by being a part of their away support.
“We decided to start travelling from the second season where we went to Goa and over a 100 fans showed up. This kick-started our campaign and, over the months, our travel experiences improved and this season the Orange Army has been in attendance for five away matches in as many cities and are proudly the biggest in number in terms of regular travelling fans in the league. Travelling together has helped form a tightly-knit bond amongst ourselves,” is the Orange view.
However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Initially, it was difficult to get people to join as a majority of the football enthusiasts in the city closely follow the European Leagues and their game is at a completely different level as compared to ISL. However, once the FCPC management stepped in, things started to get better and the response increased. Also, with the team not performing as per the expected standards, a number of fans started losing interest, but this season things have been completely different and we have our manager Ranko Popovic and his players to thank for it, according to the Orange Army.
The Orange Army have promised that they will be travelling for the away leg of the semi-finals regardless of which city and team they’re up against. In case FC Pune City makes it to the mega finale, the fans from the city will be in attendance at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru to cheer the team towards the ISL trophy.
How to join the Orange Army
- Message 7798907688, ask to be added on Orange Army WhatsApp group
- All further information on Orange Army WhatsApp group
- Details of tickets for Pune leg and Bengaluru leg of semifinal with Orange Army WhatsApp admin
- Season tickets are available (for next season) through Orange Army WhatsApp admin
Manchester United, Chelsea, Real, Barca... In Pune, all back an FCPC ISL victory
While a majority of the football buffs in the city are still inclined to watch more of the European matches than the ISL ones, the fan involvement numbers have been dramatically increasing since season one. Now every supporter, be it Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Barcelona is speaking about Pune’s ISL franchise, and the various supporter clubs have also done their bit in encouraging their respective members to cheer on their local side in numbers as a whole.
This for one, is the case with the extremely popular Manchester United Supporters Club Pune (MUSCP) – an official fan club for the Premier League giants that was formed in 2011. Their president Akshay Lulla has been a massive fan of Indian football even before the ISL began, and he’s doing everything he can to paint FCPC in the most vibrant of colours among his fraternity. Not only has he organised trips to the Balewadi Stadium in cahoots with the Orange Army, he has also congratulated the Stallions on the newly launched MUSCP TV – A YouTube channel recently launched to promote the beautiful game in the city.
Speaking about his involvement in promoting FC Pune City among MUSCP and also about the team’s overall performances, Akshay said: “MUSCP encouraged people to attend FC Pune City’s events like jersey unveiling for the Orange Army cup. We also created a separate WhatsApp group and pushed people to come with us as a group for the Pune vs Mumbai game. Now that the team has qualified for the semi-finals we’re planning to do something special to congratulate Mr. Popovic very soon by giving him a guard of honour along with personalised gifts from the MUSCP family.”