Kolkata, Oct 8 (IANS) They sang, dance and cheered, were raucous in applauding every good move. The Kolkata crowd proved yet again the citys proverbial love for football, as they not only filled up the stands at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, but made for an electrifying atmosphere on day one of the U-17 World Cup action here.
The crowd, comprising enthusiastic youngsters, teenagers, high on adrenaline school students, started pouring in large numbers as soon as the gates opened two hours prior to the first game.
Forty five minutes before the start of the day’s opening bill between England and Chile, the galleries were already half-full. By the time the game kicked off, 75 per cent of the 66,687 capacity venue — popularly called Salt Lake Stadium — was peopled.
This was in sharp contrast to the motley crowd seen in majority of the five other staging centres.
“The atmosphere is great. It seems as if the Durga puja carnival is still on,” said Deepasri Bhattacharya, a twenty something IT firm employee.
Seventeen year old Richik Roy had come with his elder brother. “I had to. I have been watching European Leagues since I was a child. I think I will get some of my future heroes from this tournament,” said the teenager.
The crowd frantically clicked selfies, broke into jugs every now and then, and shouted constant encouragement to the players.
They seemed to be relishing every happening – small or big on the ground – be the starting formalities of kids forming a circle at the centre with the tournament logo, or Jadon Sancho mesmerising with his speed and skills.