Day 1: Perinthalmanna, Malappuram District
Garima Sports & Fitness: World cup special merchandising!
I started my hunt in search of football fans from a small town called Perinthalmanna in Malappuram Dist. I took my brother in law's bike for the trip as it gave me more flexibility and ease for the movement, but the only catch was that it's the month of June and raining heavily, monsoon in Kerala has reached its peak. By around 11:30 I reached in front of the Garima sports and fitness, one of the leading sports store. Earlier in the day I met Mr. Hassan, Secretary of Khadir Ali sports club. Khadir Ali club is one of the leading soccer clubs in the Malappuram region. The club conducts various 7's football tournaments in and around the district. Mr. Hassan suggested me to go to Garima stores to get a feel of various World cup football related merchandising.
Garima Sports & Fitness
Never in my life have I seen this much of crowd in a sports store. Most of customers are in their teens, busy selecting jerseys of their favourite football players. Shamir, owner of the store is equally busy helping his customers in selecting their favourite stars' jerseys. One can see Messi, Kaka and Rooney all over the store. Flags of Argentina, Brazil and other major soccer playing are hanging all over the store. Garima has an entire range of World Cup Soccer special merchandising for the fans. The set includes flags of leading football playing nations, car stickers, wrist bands, jerseys of great players, shawls, ribbons and the list continues. Store is literally stuffed with Football related merchandising. Argentina and Brazil are the most favourite teams. Shamir has stocked over 1000 flags in different price and sizes and almost 15000 jerseys. Flags are in the range Rs45 to Rs 300. Jerseys are in the range from Rs 110 to 130. Most of the stocks come from the neighbouring district of Palakkad, Ernakulam and Thiruppur, a town in Tamil Nadu which is famous for Knitwear.
In spite of all these wide range of merchandising, the crazy fans' never ending demands continue and Shamir is clueless on where to go and get the stuff. Even though a wide range of World Cup related stuffs are available, some fans wants Caps says Shamir. Fans tastes have changed over the period of time. Lots of items have been added to the list of merchandising. Car stickers, wrist bands and shawls are the new additions. Shamir prays that Argentina and Brazil should at least reach in semis, otherwise all this festivity will stop. But for the time now its festival time and Shamir is busy helping the fans. Before leaving one of the guy in the shop told me "in a way it's good that it's raining, other wise you will not be able to stand inside the store". By the time I came out of the shop the fans of both Brazilian and Argentina were waiting for the photo shoot.
Later during the trip found I Brazil and Messi slippers in a shop. The slippers are from New Delhi and cost almost Rs. 180 per pair. When it comes to football, people of Malabar will go to any extent. After all the World Cup is once in four years phenomenon and all the store owners know this. So it's one of their greatest seasons, just like any other festival seasons.