I watched my first Bengaluru FC home game vs Shillong Lajong FC last night at Kanteerava Stadium. It was a fantastic experience. The home team won 2-0, despite being down to ten men in the first half (undeserved red card, IMO). The quality of football was great - far better than I expected. Here’s a quick summary of the game:

I watched the game from West Block A. It was a great view and a superb atmosphere. The stadium wasn’t too crowded, and unlike a cricket match, I didn’t feel like I was making a huge mistake by attempting to go watch the game. Here’s a photo I took:

There was however one aspect of the environment that I didn’t enjoy. When the referee made some horrible decisions, the crowd started yelling a lot of obscenities. While this doesn’t offend me personally (heck, I’m a bit of a potty mouth myself), there were lots of young children around, and that sort of language is unwelcome at such a setting 1.

I would love for football to catch on in a big way in India. Clubs like Bengaluru FC are the best way for that to happen. A big part of that is to get young kids into the stands and get them interested in the game. However, I would never bring a kid to an environment where this sort of language was used.

I understand what the club and fans are trying to do. They’re trying to replicate the atmosphere of the English Premier League here. This is not an aspect of the EPL that’s worth emulating though. English football fans are called hooligans for good reason. These are not the kind of people we want to encourage. We’ve got a chance to make a clean break and introduce a new breed of football fans. Let’s take that opportunity. Let’s try to be better than hooligans. It’s a pretty low bar to set.

  1. A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have cared. Maybe I’m just getting old, who knows.