Love can make you do craziest of things! Yes, you all have heard of that. However, this time, it’s a Bengali couple’s love affair with a game and their ‘goal’ in life – FOOTBALL. This elderly couple from Kolkata has already witnessed 9 live editions of the FIFA World Cup since 1982. Now, in 2018, they are going for their 10th one.
Believe it or not, this couple’s every world cup dream experience came with plenty of sacrifices and little adjustments. Not buying their favorite fish, not visiting their favorite places for years, not changing the decor of the house or not getting the beautiful sarees and kurtas for themselves – and all this to bear with year after year so that their world cup fund is not compromised. And what does it take to keep this crazy passion alive? Extreme commitment and patience!
We at LifeBeyondNumbers spent a lovely evening with this soccer-crazy couple Pannalal Chatterjee (84) and Chaitali Chatterjee (76), and they said with a smile “Even though our marriage was arranged, football happened completely out of love.”
Pannalal is so popular in his area that instead of GPS, people happily come forward to guide you to their house. Living in a small dingy flat in Khidderpore, this couple is already looking forward to their 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“It was completely out of luck that we saw the 1982 world cup and witnessing Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of the God’ goal live in 1986, is something that will always stay close to my heart,” said Chaitali while reminiscing about their first world cup in Spain.
When the couple was taking their picture with the world’s greatest footballer Pele, Chaitali had no doubt admitting that Maradona will always be her favorite footballer.
Chaitali recalls, all the memories of the world cup was worth holding on to except one. Once when the couple was in Mexico during 1986 world cup, they were attacked by robbers in a bus who were pointing guns at them and threatening to shoot them if they do not hand over their belongings. But, that hardly affected their world-cup pilgrimage in any manner.
Both of them admit that they are ardent Brazil fans and for them, football is an emotion. During 2014 world cup semi-final, witnessing their favorite team beaten 1-7 by Germany left the couple heartbroken. She says, “be it winning or losing- when you support a team it is out of sheer love and results on the field hardly makes any difference. But yes, we did wanted Brazil to win.“
Last year, during U-17 FIFA World Cup in Kolkata- the organization had given us a grand hospitality. From getting VIP passes, a vehicle at our doorstep, premium seats to lavishly arranged dinners- it was a great experience for a middle-class couple like us, who adjust their budgets daily, reveals Mr. Chatterjee.
The couple survives on Pannalal’s monthly pension of Rs.7, 500 and they have rented rooms- which adds to their world cup fund every year.
This year the couple is traveling with a group of 7 former Custom Club footballers and government officials on June 14. They have managed 3 match tickets after years of saving.
There was no response to their repeated emails from FIFA organizing committee regarding the arrangement of tickets. So they have also written to the Russian Consulate for arranging few more tickets. The couple says, due to their age and health factor, this might be their last world cup together and there is a less chance that they will make it to Qatar in 2022. But, we hope and pray that we see them in Qatar too.
Holding on to bitter-sweet memories Pannalal says, “We don’t have children but we share a very sacred relationship with sports and it cannot be put into words. We eat, live and breathe football. Over the years, it has become our whole world.” Pannalal is still a member of Sikkim Football Association. Since childhood, Pannalal has been attached to sports and was a football player too.
LifeBeyondNumbers stands with this football-crazy couple and salutes them for their passion and enthusiasm. In a humble initiative, we are appealing people like you to come forward and help this couple get few more tickets for 2018 FIFA World Cup.
This is how you can make their 10th FIFA outing a memorable one:
They are running short of approximately Rs.80,000. Any amount you can contribute to their dream voyage will be a blessing for this aging couple. Can you?
- Name on the account: PANNALALL CHATTERJEE & CHAITALI CHATTERJEE
- Account Number: 461800398
- IFSC Code: IDIB000K036
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