Upgraded crowd facilities make CM the real champ
Kolkata: Football is a sport that brings people from all walks of life closer. Termed as "the beautiful game" it unites passionate spectators in a celebration of epic proportions. This year, the U-17 World Cup in India is a shining beacon in proving this fact. The games held in Kolkata have seen tremendous outpouring of fan support. The services provided for the spectators thronging to Yuva Bharati Krirangan for the matches have been unprecedented. Gone are the days when spectators used to come on matadors in order to watch a match in the stadium which in turned created utter chaos on the roads. As Kolkata gears up for one of the most highly anticipated clash in the Finals of the U-17 World Cup, the state government has proved once again why the City of Joy's other name is The Mecca of Football.
The officials of FIFA have already praised the state government for upgrading the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, but for the spectators who have been visiting the stadium since its inception, the real champion of the Under 17 World Cup is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee whose personal intervention has taken the facilities provided to them to a different height, hitherto unknown in Bengal.
Kajal Sengupta who had seen four World Cup finals from 1986 said: "Spectator management is a subject in the football playing countries. It is really amazing that Mamata Banerjee has given so much stress on the spectator management. She is the real hero of the U 17 World Cup tournament."
Subhrangshu Roy, sports historian said:" The arrangement made for the spectators, particularly those who had come from the districts is praiseworthy."
Paromita Roy, a school teacher who recently submitted her doctoral thesis on Sports literature said: "Nearly 6,000 women spectators were present during the matches but the arrangement was so good that none of them faced any difficulty in going home, particularly on the days when the matches ended at 10.10pm."
Traffic jam along Eastern Metropolitan bypass on the days when either derby or international football matches were held was a very common sight in the days past. Hundreds of spectators were seen walking down EM Bypass to Ruby Hospital more as transport was not available. The spectators had to walk to Sealdah station or Ultadanga to catch trains for northern suburbs. As public transport was not available after the matches, the spectators used to come in mini trucks. The vehicles were parked on roads surrounding the stadium. After the matches ended, these vehicles caused massive traffic jams.
Tapas Sengupta who has seen over 600 matches in the stadium since its inception in 1982-83 when Nehru cup football tournament was held said: "In those days, the infrastructure was poor and regular derby matches and international football matches began to be organized at the stadium from 1986 onwards. We were used to chaos after big matches and it was only during the U 17 World Cup were we amazed to see the arrangement.
Diego Maradona was present during a football match between IFA XI and Kolkata XI on December 7, 2008. It was played under floodlights. The arrangement was so poor that Maradona had to run for shelter to save himself from the spectators. "It was an unforgettable memory. Maradona had to leave the stadium after the spectators chased him with the desire to touch his feet," said Bibhas Manna from Howrah, a regular visitor to Yuva Bharati Krirangan.
World famous goalkeeper Oliver Kahn retired following a match between Beyern Munich and Mohun Bagan where the visiting team beat Bagan 3-0. There was absolute chaos after the match. The spectators entered the field aiming to touch Kahn.
To avoid any confusion after the matches are over, the police officers through public address system are directing the spectators where they can get public transport to ensure that those coming from the districts get buses and reach Sealdah and Howrah
stations and catch the last suburban train which leaves anytime between 11.15pm and 11.30pm. Not a single matador carrying passengers was seen during the matches. "The U-17 World Cup matches have elevated the spectators to a different height showing proper respect to them who are the real backbone of any club or country."