Know your city: A Pele statue and Bengaluru’s forgotten ‘goals’

Education may be an elusive goal in Gowthamapuram but not football. This is how Ravikumar, the football coach, who grew up in Gouthampuram, describes the football atmosphere in the area. While the area holds plenty of football talent, it is also home to a statue of legendary Brazilian footballer Pele.

Ravikumar believes that it was during the period before FIFA World Cup 2002 Football fans and footballers of Gouthampuram have come together to pay tribute to Pele, who in and of himself holds a unique significance in the Bengaluru football scene.

“In the old days, Ronaldo and Messi weren’t big names. It was Pele who dominated the football scene by being the top scorer. Brazil is also 5 times World Cup champion, so all the residents of Gouthampuram decided to build a statue of Pele in honor of the player and the football country “It is a concrete structure that is five feet high and costs about 50,000 rupees,” says Ravikumar, who comes from a family of footballers.

The statue – The King – shows Pele wearing the yellow-green No. 10 Brazilian soccer jersey, and blue shorts. The statue was inaugurated on April 22, 2001 by Mayor Prema Kariyapa, MLA M Muniswamy and A Divyanatha, chair of the statue’s installation committee.

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Pele’s statue is an “identity” that the people of Gouthampuram are proud of. The statue may be 21 years old, but the journey to become ‘Little Brazil’ or ‘Cannon Forces’ in Bengaluru dates back to the time when the British ruled India. In fact, Gowthamapuram was one of the military bases in Bengaluru for the British where armories were stored. Ravikumar explains that his ancestors, who worked as cooks in the British army, also played substitute football with the English. This is exactly the case with other footballers who grew up in Gothampuram.

The statue was inaugurated on April 22, 2001 by Mayor Prema Kariyapa, MLA M Muniswamy and A Divyanatha, chair of the statue’s installation committee. (Express Photo)

“The English used to play football regularly and were short of men. They took advantage of the talent of the local Bengali and made them a part of the game. If someone had good handicrafts, they would be a goalkeeper; if someone was a runner, he would be in front. Football has its way in the region,” said Ravikumar, who is in his 60s.

Also known as Little Brazil, Gowthamapuram once produced some international and state-level footballers in India – Narayanswami Ulaganathan, Isaiah Aruminayagam, D Venkatesh, P Kannan (Asian Pele) and Sattar Basheer among others. Ravikumar explains that the Little Brazil name is a testament to Brazilian-inspired soccer techniques. “Gowthamapuram footballers have techniques and tricks inspired by Brazilian football. They pass, dribble, shoot, defend and attack the way a Brazilian footballer does. He is devious, aggressive and agile,” says Ravikumar, who plans to start a football academy in Ulsoor soon. “.

Saravana, a former football player based in Gouthampuram, explains that the Pele statue became the center of attention during the FIFA World Cup. (Express Photo)

Saravana, a former football player based in Gouthampuram, explains that the Pele statue became the center of attention during the World Cup soccer tournaments. “During the World Cup, the area around the Pele statue turns into a carnival as football fans in the area radiate joy. The statue was honored with garlands. Even on Pele’s birthday, fans celebrate joyously before the statue,” says Saravana, who is also a member of the Pelé federation committee. Bengaluru Football District.

Unlike in the early days, taking football seriously is a challenge in the contemporary era. With money short, there is very little scope for holding club-level tournaments and nurturing young talent, residents say. Moreover, with education taking center stage, Gowthamapuram is unable to produce much international talent, unlike in earlier days, according to Ravikumar, however, Gowthamapuram residents believe that the Pele statue, which is unique in Bengaluru, is an enduring identity that will not fade Start.

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