Kolkata family's unique love for soccer

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/p/pannalalchatterji.jpg' class='caption'> Anyone in Kolkata's Kidderpore's Ramkamal Street would show you where the Chatterjees live.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Anyone in Kolkata's Kidderpore's Ramkamal Street would show you where the Chatterjees live. A simple middleclass Bengali house, the Chatterjee couple is legendary for their love of football. 73-year-old Pannalal Chatterjee was a goalkeeper for Kalighat club since 1949, then played for Kidderpore Club till 1968. He started the Sikkim Gold Cup and helped make the world's second highest football stadium in Gangtok. But what Pannalal and his wife Chaitali are known for is their record six trips to the World Cup Football since 1982. And now they are all ready for Berlin. Chaitali Chatterjee or Mashima as everyone calls her has probably been the only saree clad spectator of World Cup matches. No surprise that even the King of the Game Pele recognises them. "I would love to watch Brazilian players and if Rooney can play I would love to watch him and new players and in a field you can get a total view. On television you are following the ball only. "If you follow football you would love to watch in a field, say a defender progresses towards the goal and someone from forward or half takes his place. This is something you can't get to watch on TV," said Chaitali. Like most Indians she wants Brazil to win though her all time favourite is Maradona. "I watched Pele but Maradona is unmatched. In Spain I watched Brazil and Argentina but he was sent off the field unfortunately," said Chaitali. Second home The football ground is Pannalal's second home. He loves the game wherever, whoever is playing it. And in his seventh trip he wants to watch Brazil lift the Cup for the sixth time but has his eyes on Germany, England, Argentina and Holland. "This is my life and the game's biggest extravaganza is something we never miss. We save up Rs 3000-4000 every month to attend. I want Brazil to win and Ronaldo is my favourite," said Pannalal. Though they are the unofficial Indian flag bearers at the World Cup each year the Chatterjees have little hope for Indian football. "India at the World Cup? Impossible. This is daydreaming. No infrastructure, no effort by players or organizers, there is no seriousness in our football," said Chaitali. With so much passion for football as evident from the Chatterjee family, it's indeed strange that the beautiful game isn't more popular in India.

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