Bringing up a Red
I see them all the time. Supporters of our storied club, who have been bought up in an LFC family right from the beginning. Their father and most of the times, their mother was an LFC supporter. Their grandfather was a season ticket holder and the said ticket has been passed down from father to son until the young lad now has it.
Their names are put on the season ticket waiting list as soon as they are born
Their rooms are decorated with LFC merch, posters, banners, scarves, flags, u get the drift.
They have retro jerseys and attended matches as kids, famous ones. They have seen their heroes up close and personal. They are completely immersed in all things LFC, so is it any wonder when they grow up to become passionate supporters of the club that they love?
I envy them.
Here I am, the ONLY LFC supporter in a family that lives 1000s of miles away from the club, a family that doesn’t support LFC, or any football club, hell, no one else even watches football on the telly or sports in general.
My fellow LFC supporters here are all “first-gen” so to speak. Young men (mostly) who fell in love with the sport of football (in a cricket crazy nation) and subsequently this glorious club, relatively recently. Ask any of them and chances are most will tell you that their love affair with LFC started in the mid to late 90s when the EPL started being broadcast on Indian television. We had never really seen high-quality football before this and it blew our minds.
Predictably those early years got a lot of Indians supporting those Mancs. It’s hard not to get onto the bandwagon, especially since we didn’t really know much about the league, the teams, their history etc
But a few of us, for varying reasons, fell in love with this club, that always promised so much, but never really delivered. Then Istanbul happened and this love only grew.
Cut to present day, and although still smaller than the Mancs, the LFC fanbase in the country has grown exponentially. And a lot of us “early converts” so to speak, are now having our first kids.
Nothing in life can prepare you for that moment when you see your first born for the first time. It’s magical. But it sets your mind racing about the myriad of new responsibilities that are now on your shoulders
Not top among them, but high enough, is the responsibility to help your kid fall in love with sports, football and to try and get them to fall in love with the club that you love. I know, I know, why thrust my own preferences on my kid you ask. Well, if I am going to be thrusting a whole lot of other stuff on him like religion, morality etc the least I can do is give him/her something that will bring him pure joy, and occasional bouts of frustration/anger, for the rest of his life.
But, how do you do that, when you are so far removed from the physical location of the club? The culture around you is devoid of LFC and footie in general and no one from the family gets your “obsession” with a foreign team that you will probably see a handful of times in the flesh throughout your whole life.
Well, you start small. In my case, the first hurdle was the damn colour. My eldest LOVES blue. Imagine the horror when you think that he might end up supporting those London plastics or even worse, those bitters across the park. You find previous kits that he might find more appealing and get him those. This year’s purple really made my life a lot easier though. You get them excited about matchdays by teaching them chants, songs and make it into a kind of game. Something that they enjoy doing. At current count, my eldest 4 yr old knows about 6-7 different LFC chants and songs, including AllezAllezAllez, the Mo Salah chant and even the new VVD one. Its like learning nursery rhymes for him.
I get him a Home kit every year with his name and number on it, in adult size, which I put away and promise to give him when he turns 15. He sees all these gifts and gets excited.
I get him kits in his size to wear when he goes for his football coaching. He has LFC footballs, bags, water bottles etc.
The only thing stopping me from making his room an LFC memorial is my wife, who has promised to kick me out if I spoil her house’s interiors. I think it may be worth it.
My attempt is to make football synonymous with LFC for him. And especially with no support around me, my efforts need to be double of what someone from Liverpool might need to do.
All the while constantly countering the efforts of his uncles who unfortunately happen to be fans of that club down the highway. It’s a struggle.
Now with the birth of my second son, it will be easier to get him on the LFC bandwagon, as he will have both his dad and elder brother to get him hyped up about LFC, while also reinforcing my eldest’s support for the club as he will feel an extra sense of responsibility to get his younger brother to like what he likes.
Now for the sceptical among you, you may be saying “but what about falling in love with the club” etc? Well, that’s a luxury that is not available to me and my sons. The supporting ecosystem to make kids fall in love with football and a particular club just isn’t there in India.
I fell in love with LFC but letting my kids make their own choice in time means that they may very well decide to support another club, and that would break my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I am bringing them up to be strong, independent thinkers and they may decide to not support LFC and they may not even watch football in the end, but I am damn well going to do everything in my power to tilt the scale in LFC’s favour.
Does that make me a bad parent? Or a damn good one?