Bengaluru FC has made the city go football crazy with a win on debut in the I-League. The welcoming was fitting as the players enjoyed an open-bus parade with fans cheering for their favourite team in blue.
It was almost unreal that the celebrations weren't happening in the traditional winners hometowns of Goa or Kolkata, but it was happening in Bangalore. The team justified the fan support and All India Football Federation's decision to make space for the club at the start of the tournament.
The BFC fans have been one of the most loud and lively in the tournament so far, and the players aren't complaining. The fans didn't settle for anything less than a personal autograph and photograph, and the players including Sunil Chhetri and coach Ashley Westwood obliged everyone.
Parth Jindal, the team owner gave all credit to the management and the supporters. "This season has been an absolute dream," Jindal said after the grand parade. "Nobody ever imagined this would be possible. It's all thanks to the management."
The Indian skipper Chhetri narrated a short story to explain how happy the fans made him feel, saying Bengaluru FC had the best supporters he had ever seen.
What probably worked best for the team was the management spent more time on nurturing young talents rather than spending big money on marquee players. They were one of the lesser fancied teams at the start of the tournament and went on to lift the title. Karnataka players, like Vishal Kumar, who haven't played many matches have still grown from the exposure the club has given them this season.
"We worked hard," Vishal said talking about his team's key to success. "There was no differentiation in the team. We had to show something and we did."
The Karnataka player also went on to say that Karnataka football as a whole has benefitted from the club as no team from the state had won any tournament since 1977 during the time when his grandfather was an active footballer.
"It's been so long since ITI won the Federation cup during the days of my grandfather, and ever since there has been no such victory," Vishal added. "The fans have been fantastic. I've never seen such huge crowds gathered here. Of course in Kolkata and Goa there is support for home team but it's a first for me.
"I'd have been happier if I had played more games. But, it's still a great feeling."