Saturday, October 28, 2017

Premier League Live – Just Another Validation How Much Indians love Football

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Bengaluru as a guest of the Premier League to attend their Premier League Live football festival.  I participated in the same event in Mumbai in 2014 and was blown away with the turnout, not just of the supporters who came out in droves to experience the festival, but also from the Premier League clubs who spent massive amounts of time, energy and resources to travel to India to engage with Indian football supporters. 

The weekend kicked off with a private VIP reception at the Whitefield Marriott where we had the opportunity to listen to and interact with Premier League legends Alan Shearer, John, Barnes, Shay Given and others in an intimate setting.  While they are all incredibly down to earth and easy to speak with, there is just something awe-inspiring to be interacting with the person who has the record of scoring the most goals scored in the Premier League and others who have represented their club and country at the highest levels.   

We spent the next day at the Premier League Live Fan Park which was just walking distance from our hotel.  While Whitefield is a somewhat “quiet” suburb on the outskirts of Bengaluru, the fan park was anything but quiet. By the time we got there, thousands of hard-core football supporters had already turned up ready for the main event - a screening of the Liverpool FC vs Manchester United match.

We were given VIP status and had the opportunity to chill in the Premier League lounge drinking Kingfishers with the Premier League legends and some friends from the industry.  These are the moments when I am just on cloud 9 and can’t believe that these experiences are actually part of my job. Imagine discussing the future of Indian football with key industry influencers, while Robert Pires & Alan Shearer stand beside you reminiscing about past Premier League matches and then everyone in the lounge quieting down to watch a parade of Indian Liverpool FC supporters enter the fan park passionately singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  These are images from dreams I used to have prior to moving to India.

Beyond giving me more things to brag to my older Brother about, Premier League Live was just another validation of how much Indian youth love football.  The park was packed but not just with curious sports fans, no these were hard-core 18 – 34 year old football lovers who clearly are emotionally connected to the sport and their respective clubs.  This country is rapidly becoming a football nation and these are the types of events which showcase the love that Indian youth have for the beautiful game. 

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