Last week I got an event invite on Facebook. It was to watch the Arsenal vs Liverpool game with the members of the official Arsenal Football Fans Club in Delhi. I courteously accepted the invite to join the group but ticked maybe on whether I’ll make the venue. My reasons were borderline stupid, but we all have our quirks.
Yes I like watching the game on HD and yes I like listening to the experts talk during the half time break, a luxury you have to concede if amongst other football lovers. It’s so fucking painfully imperative to have an opinion when you’re sitting in a group. However, I’m not going to go any further with my personal television preferences and my allergy to prescribed group dynamics , what I want to bring to fore is that there is an Arsenal Fans Club in Delhi, meaning there are young Football fans and not all of them are Bengali.
For a country that has been obsessed with cricket for generations, it is a bit weird to hear people talk about football outside of Calcutta. Of course, there they’ve been talking about everything since forever.
Anyway, when I woke up this afternoon recovering from a dodgy hangover, I heard a football being thumped around. I thought maybe it’s watching too much of Van Persie goal highlights last night. Soon I realised though that neither was it the Talismanic Dutch nor was it afternoon. It was well and truly evening and there were kids outside tucking away goals between make shift brick posts. I went out watched these kids and realised that not only were they good at it individually, but also as little units. That was surprising because my memory of playing football is that of the whole class running after the ball routine and then scrambling and squirting it towards the general direction of a north eastern student who would basically outrun the rest of the class to score what was usually the solitary goal in the game as after that everybody decided we should stick to cricket.
That was then, this is now:
Check out the Pepsi ad above. Now creatively it isn’t a work of genius but of what I’ve observed over the weekend and fleetingly over my interactions with the teenage lot the game is changing. I’m not saying cricket is over, but when Pepsi pronounces “change the game” there is very strong social inertia behind this. Ranbir Kapoor isn’t old mind you, but in this ad he at best plays a final year college student trying to influence his school going younger brother. The younger and seemingly more talented of the 2 has a bored expression on his face. Which will stay confused silent and turn cocky side smile eventually.
Its however, how the young one responds in words is what interests me the most: “Thoda football bhi Khel liya karo, kaam aata hai”(Play some football, its useful) is definitely not a powerful enough endorsement for the top game in the world. I guess Pepsi wants to tread carefully, not alienating cricket completely. So it’s a half statement, I would think a teaser or an experiment to many such campaigns.