Virtual fan walls for real-time cheer in sport

Sport has since quite a while ago served as the universal remedy for a distraught soul, hurting heart and deflated soul. Games are the events for fans to draw quality from just being together. The intrusion of Covid implied the suspension of play on an uncommon scale. It was a decent five months after the lockdown that the Indian sport swung back to activity last Saturday, offering genuinely necessary rest from present reality.

Despite the fact that the deferred Indian Premier League (IPL) returned miles away in the observer less stadiums of the United Arab Emirates on account of the pandemic, a great many fans are content that they have motivation to celebrate their basic delight. Closer home, the Whistle Podu Army — the official fan club of the three-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings — is likewise adapting to this new typical. The club has been drawing in the fans virtually by having Zoom calls review and match days, compensating for the ones who couldn’t encounter the happiness of remaining in an ocean of yellow at MA Chidambaram Stadium and cheering boisterously their Thala MS Dhoni.

“We were excited to fill in the I, J, K stands, see a full house at Chepauk after a long time and also watch MS (Dhoni) back in action after 13 months (he last played a competitive game in July 2019). Then pandemic happened. But that the IPL is happening is in itself a blessing. Amidst the tough times, this acts as entertainment and relief,” says Prabhu Damodaran, co-founder of Whistle Podu Army.

While fans can’t truly be available at the stadiums, the Indian barricade has set four fan walls over the three venues in UAE. The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), alongside BookMyShow, has set up a system where the individuals who want to be available virtually, can sign in and register. With 96 slots assigned per team, the fortunate ones will end up cheering from the stands, virtually. “CSK fans are spread everywhere. We would have filled half the stadium at the Wankhede (Mumbai) or Eden Gardens (Kolkata) and have the same roar for Dhoni when he walks in.

We miss that, this season. But fan walls allow us to let them know that we are backing them,” he adds.

This time around, there is significantly greater commitment from ladies with a considerable lot of them composing web journals or giving match measurement or putting out recordings, calls attention to Damodaran. Despite the fact that Chepauk has had an ever increasing number of ladies filling the stands throughout the long term, very few had been dynamic online until this season, he includes.

For the Whistle Podu Army, it isn’t only the fans that they need to lock in.

To help the spirit of players who are in a bio-secure condition and have been away from the family for near two months, the club has plans to keep their web-based media handles dynamic by posting recordings of fans holding notices with messages of help for the group, and more. “We want to make sure we send a message to the team. Each one can make a placard and say ‘Whistle Podu’ or ‘Roar for CSK’ and take photos and videos, share it on social media. Barring the time they play match and train, players are in an isolated place with their smartphones.

We did observe that they notice our posts. We want to keep them in good spirits,” elaborates Damodaran.

At its best, sports can be uplifting and reassuring. That is the thing that the IPL has done. Despite the fact that the pandemic has not eased back down in India, the live sport has given individuals the expectation that the arrival of regularity isn’t excessively far off.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Times of Chennai journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.