Syed Hamza, DU Beat correspondent and photographer for Barefoot magazine, recalls his dream-like experience of being the official photographer for Bhaichung Bhutia’s farewell match.
Walking into Jawaharlal Nehru stadium amidst the roar of over 35,000 fans, I felt like a star myself. The chants of “INDIA-INDIA” could have given goose bumps to anyone standing in the middle of the pitch. Yes, I am talking about the India-Bayern Munich match where, I can proudly boast, I was present on the ground as a photographer for Barefoot, an online magazine on Indian football.
The feeling that you get when you look through the lens and you find the majestic Arjen Robben making another of his trademark runs, rushing towards you with indomitable precision is simply astonishing, to say the least. At that moment, I genuinely considered myself the luckiest person alive to witness this once-in-a-lifetime fest from an extraordinarily close distance.
Oh, and if you are not envious of me already , I should tell you that it is even more amazing if the preceding night you actually get to meet these superstars at a press conference and manage to shake hands with them and get a picture to flaunt among your friends. I know a lot of you would want to kill me right now but well, all I can say is that I’m a lucky dog. This isn’t the first time I got lucky though; the other times are not relevant here I suppose.
Coming back to the match, everyone did expect India to lose and to do so by a margin. But no one would have thought that we would maintain a clean sheet throughout the second half and even come close to scoring a few times. Practically, it couldn’t have been better. The only thing that could be better than this would be that I were on the other side of the lens or India had won the match (I did mention “practically”, didn’t I?). Baichung Bhutia couldn’t have had a better farewell after all he put his heart and soul in trying to make the sport popular in India for the last sixteen years.
For me, the two hours on the pitch were the best I ever had, more than a dream, an exhilarating actuality.
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