Courtesy: Pune MirrorAll the world’s a pitchThe Hotfut Futsal Mini World Cup brought expats and locals together for football and fun
by Harket SuchdeMonday, May 07, 2012
Even as the Pune Warriors lost yet another match in the Indian Premier League on Saturday, a different ballgame was being played in their home city. The Hotfut Futsal Arena in Mundhwa had organised a ‘mini-world cup’ and expats and locals alike participated with enthusiasm. Futsal, for the uninitiated, is the FIFA-approved five-a-side version of football, usually played indoors. Hotfut, which opened in February this year, is India’s first facility dedicated to the game.
Pavit Singh, co-owner of Hotfut, outlined the motivation behind hosting this tournament, “We wanted to show people all over the world what India is capable of. This tournament is the first of its kind and the response has encouraged me and my business partner Nikhil to organise similar tournaments a few times a year.
“There were a few altercations, but that’s expected in the heat of competition and there were handshakes all around at the end of each game,” he said.
To put it mildly, the participants were having a ball. Karim Shamack, from the Democratic Republic of Congo said, “Football is a sport driven by passion, as long as all players have that passion, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. I’m having a great time, I have made friends from all over the world — Iran, Sudan, India.”
Fadi Fahmi from Yemen, a student at a local college, saw the entire tournament as one big party, “For students, this is a great platform to mingle and socialise. We meet fellow foreigners and many Indians too, and the fact that we’re playing football gives us common ground, something we can talk about.
“The atmosphere is electric and pitches are brilliant, it’s a good day for football in Pune,” Fahmi said enthusiastically.
And it wasn’t only foreigners who were excited. Indians too got into the groove. Businessman Anupam Kamble said, “This initiative is brilliant. Football removes barriers and encourages cultural exchange. I also think footballers are naturally receptive while playing. If we spot someone watching, we always invite them to join in, that’s just how it works.”
For Ahmed Sheikheldeen from Sudan, it was a night he will never forget. “Win or lose, I will take away great memories from this tournament, the friendly people and the strong bonds I have made on and off the field will last long beyond this tournament.”
Ahmed Salah from Iraq believes the tournament helped dispel the negative image imposed upon people from certain countries. “We showed them we are all the same; we are all human. Where else but in football do you see every nation across the world following the same rules? FIFA is more powerful than any government in the world! Every nation follows the rules they set.”
And that, according to Singh, is the beauty of football. “Football is the greatest leveller, once on the pitch, you let your feet do the talking, and nothing else matters,” he concluded.This tournament has encouraged me and my business partner Nikhil to organise similar ones more often every year
- Pavit Singh
, co-owner, HotfutThe atmosphere is electric and pitches are brilliant, it’s a good day for football in PuneFadi Fahmi
, student from yemen
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari