Up-close and Personal With Kerala Blasters Manjappada: Know the Inside World of Yellow Army
Kerala, the Southest state of India has always been an epicentre of Indian football, but their presence in the national scene was never felt as prominently as it is being felt in the last two or three years. Courtesy to Kerala Blasters and off course the Indian Super League.
The Blasters have featured in the list of top 10 most attended football clubs in the world on a regular basis, since the inception of ISL. The regulator of this mass-fandom of the franchise or what we call as ‘The power behind the scene’ is the ‘Manjappada’, the fanclub of Kerala Blasters, one of the biggests of it’s kind in the country as well as in the continent.
Team LNTUP decided to take a look into the inner world of the new sensation of Indian football ie. the Manjappada and we caught up with Renjith Ranadev, the Secretary of the Yellow Brigade. From their origin to the future, the conversation encompassed it all.
●LNTUP: Tell us how it all started? The first days of Manjappada
□Manjappada(Renjith): We started as a fan group but the name was a cause of concern. We tried some names related to Kerala Blasters. At last we decided this name ‘Manjappada’, that means ‘Yellow Regiment’ or ‘Yellow Army’. Then we formed a FB page for Manjappada and now it has crossed 200K followers and likes! Now Manjappada is having Whatsapp groups with lots of members across whole India.
●LNTUP: Kerala has always had a football culture. Inspite of having representation in the top flight via the likes of Viva Kerala and others, none of them gained such fan following as Blasters. As the fanclub of Blasters, what do you think has made the difference?
□Manjappada: Our football was surving without a top tier club, but we managed to survive with many local tournaments, we concentrated on 7s football.
After KBFC got introduced whole Kerala fans got united,we got a team to cheer,we got team to get emotional ,we stayed with them in all good and bad times. We can proudly say when there is KBFC match the whole Kerala will shrink to Kochi, Kaloor!
□LNTUP: But Kerala had Viva Kerala also. What made the Kerala people think differently incase of Blasters? Was the glitz and glamour of ISL a factor?
Manjappada: No there was support for Viva too but the main problem was the schedule and some things done by AIFF. And we have to understand that KBFC became a brand in Kerala. Thats the factor. We can call it marketing. Only good management can do such things.
□How does Manjappada function?
●Manjappada: The District Core Committe does planning of the programme and 3 members from the district committe will be there in State Core Committe. They will discuss their plans and get more ideas. From there Working Committe should give approval and if Working Committe gets it wrong then there is an Advisory Committe also
So From district group to District core to State core to Working committe, these are pedestals of our structure.
□LNTUP: Manjappada today is one of the most widely followed fanclubs in India as well as in Asia. Tell us about that.
●Manjappada: In Whatsapp we have groups in 14 districts. Then Chennai, Hyderbad, Banglore, Mumbai and includes Pune and Gujarat also. From Delhi and other members from North India.
Then Northeast in this and Kolkata also included.
Then GCC, the global wing- members from around the world are there. They are the people who went to see Humey in Canada to support India in Macau etc.
Most of the district wing has more than 3 groups. Ernakulam has 11 groups, Mallappuram has 15 groups. Total more than 15000 members.
FB group -113000
FB likes – 201000
Twitter – 9500
Instagram – 23K
Youtube – 12K subscribers.
□LNTUP: Now talking about Manjappada, how are you approaching the ISL this time? Any new plans you are having for backing the Blasters?
●Manjappada : We are planning to come up with some chants. There is Manjappada App to coordinate with all KBFC fans across the World as well as in India. We are sitting in East gallery basically known as Manjappada stand.
□LNTUP: Do you guys dress-reherseal for it? I mean for the mass-chants or does it come spontaneously?
●Manjappada : Yes! There are some videos in our official Manjappada page. Its a mammoth task to reach it when there is 60k+ crowd,but challenges are the motivation to do even better and better,so will try our level best.
□LNTUP: Nice! Besides your activity on the field, tell me about the involvement of Manjappada in social or Non-Football related activities if any.
●Manjappada : There are lots of charity programmes, we had many tournaments.
Charity programmes such as
Blood donation camps in all places, giving food in orphanages, planting trees etc. Now also Manjappada Arabian Football League is conducted by GCC wing in Dubai.
□LNTUP: Can you tell a bit on that?
●Manjappada: Sure! Six teams participated- Manjappada Sharjah Thampurans, Manjappada Dubai Warriors, Manjappada Fujierah Falcons, Manjappada Ajman Pirates, Manjappada Royal Capital Football Club, Abudhabi
Manjappada Al Ain Sultans.
Initial draft was kept for 18 player names as marquee players 3 players for each team. Then we kept another draft for 30 players. 20th Oct was the tourney day. 6 teams was divided into two groups, Top two from each group wen to semi and thereafter finals.
Tourney was won by Manjappada Al Ain Sultans. Runners up Manjappada Sharjah Thampurans. 2nd runners up
Dubai Warriors. Fairplay award
Manjappada royal capital football club Abudhabi. Best goal Gazali from dubai warriors. Golden boot Gazali from dubai warriors. Most valuable player Shahid from Manjappada sharjah Thampurans. Best goal keeper Amjad(putt) from Dubai Warriors.
□LNTUP : Does Manjappada allow memberships from overseas people and if yes then how?
●Manjappada : We did not start membership process yet,we need to finalize it, we will consider everyone, now it’s a big family.
□LNTUP: One final question. Manjappada today is one of the biggest football fanclubs not only in India but in Asia. It is a bit hypothetical question, but being part of one of the most prominent emerging fanclubs, how do you see the future of fanclub culture in Indian football?
●Manjappada : India is booming in football,we have that potential and we need to organize it in the right way otherwise we will remain same as earlier. I think we have football fans from ancient time but we need powerful structure to increase the standard of our Indian football.
As a part of this fan club of Manjappada, we are very optimistic about our future and we want to support Indian football and KBFC. Love to see most of the Indian clubs are forming their own fan base. Now football is reaching the remote areas where football was struggling to get a lift up,so fans are essential to develop India as a footballing country, a strong,best footballing nation.
□LNTUP: Thanks for your time!
●Manjappada : Thanks a lot on behalf of Manjappada!