It all started during World Cup 2014 when I saw a group of friends, Gourab Ghosh Roy ( Lord GGR), Kaniska Ghosh, Kanad Basu and others sharing posts regarding a certain group called FIIOB ( FOOTBALL IS IN OUR BLOOD). ‘ There are so many groups in FB. Perhaps this one is just like those groups ‘, I thought but before I could settle down upon my opinion, I was dumbstruck to find so many members posting the latest updates in the group and was even more shocked to find that a number of friends were there in the group, which includes my bestie, Ankan Sarkar. I decided to go through the group and what I found was beyond my expectation. I have always been a crazy lover of football and I cursed my luck ( Golum style 😉 ) for not knowing about this group; it was created 3 years back I, the ignorant fool,on one fine summer evening got to know about this wonderful group of Kolkata Tilottama . Ah well, they always say, ‘ better late than never ‘.
I have always been a lover of football since I don’t-know-when. I got initiated to this religion of ‘ football’ by my big brother, my jyatha ( uncle , who is also my godfather ) and my father and I became a die- hard fan of Argentina and Barcelona even before Lionel Messi started playing. I remember, as a kid, my first favourite player was Riquelme. I became well acquainted with the game , its rules and everything related to it. Slowly as I grew up, I started taking interest in Fantasy Football, this one too, thanks to my dada. My knowledge was limited to the media and the little bro-sis talks that would occur once upon a blue moon when dada found time for long discussions over phone. And then FIIOB happened in my life.
YES !! I prefer to call it that way; “it just happened”. I started learning new things, information to be precise and I was fascinated by the way the “ footy” was carried out ( thanks to my friends who went there and uploaded pictures ) and also the ‘ tourney ‘. I slowly started making new friends and found fellow female football fans like Mimi Munshi and even though I personally don’t know Madhumita di, I heard a lot about her as well. They became my inspirations for my short story , ‘ All For A Game ‘ which is going to be published in an anthology soon, and which is based on a female football lover. This was just the beginning of the journey. I got to know my fellow ‘ fantasy football players ‘ , Kaniska and Gourab and felt as if I do deserve to belong to the group. I was soon joined by Arpita Banerjee, a very dear friend of mine and met my fellow Argentine fans, Devleen and Mimi.
As I became the silent observer to the frequent posts and events , I felt that FIIOB is just more than a group. It has of course transcended the virtual world long time back and has established itself well enough in the real world but my point is , it is not like those groups who only talk about ‘ football’. FIIOB has created a culture of its own; ‘ the footy picnics ‘, ‘ the tourney ‘, ‘ the FIIOB league in FPL and La Liga’, ‘ the FIIOB Fight Club ‘ and the list continues. It is not about loving the game or talking about it; it is about being a part of the game, it is about feeling the game, it is about reflecting the spirit of the game…. that is what FIIOB portrays. And all this is managed by the adroit hands of the moderators ( I am naming the people I know or I have heard about ; others, please don’t take this as an offense ) : Abhiroop Mankin, Deep Sarkar, Viv Sarkar, Tamas Sinha, Winston Dias and others. Kudos to all of you.
Today, FIIOB has more than 100,000 members and my newsfeed is flooded with friends sharing their personal experiences which they encountered in their journey with FIIOB and I found one word , common to 99.99 % of the posts : FAMILY . It takes a lot of effort to instil this idea of ‘ family ‘ among thousands of people and it is the passion and love for the game which nourished the group, which made it evolve into a ‘ culture’ , into a ‘ family’. Now when I wonder “ What makes Kolkata Tilottama so special and so unique ? “, the only answer that comes to my mind is : FIIOB. Trust me, this is not flattery. Think about it . A metropolitan city has heritage sites, parks, shopping malls which are unique to the city but how many cities have a football group, which started its baby steps as a FB group and then slowly made its mark in the reality and extended beyond the city? Just one, I can say. Yes, just one FIIOB of Kolkata Tilottama which has now become pan- Indian and ‘global’ to be precise.
FIIOB is a culture that has grown out of passion and love, that has learnt to overcome the obstacles, accept the mistakes and move on; that has ‘upgraded ‘ itself in the ever changing diorama of life ; it had its ups and downs and it had molded itself but never got uprooted; the tallest branch of this ever blossoming tree might have gone beyond the layers of clouds called ‘ virtual group’ , ‘ real group’ and is now caressed by the clouds which nourish a ‘ family’ and breathes the spirit of ‘culture’, but it has its roots, fixed in the ground, firmly. If I am to describe what FIIOB is, the only thing I will be able to say is , “ FIIOB is the real-life version of Krypton, Asgard or Pandora.” I have joined recently and perhaps this is the little I could write about FIIOB. My journey will continue and I know I will meet more wonderful people and learn a lot and hopefully, will get the opportunity to be a part of the events. Perhaps then, I will be able to write a better article or a story on FIIOB. THANK YOU FIIOB 🙂