The FIFA World Cup takes place just once every four years. Naturally, it’s a big deal. 81-year-old Pannalal Chatterjee and his wife Chaitali, 72, fell in love with the World Cup more than 30 years ago in Spain. Years later, the passion still burns bright as the two will attend the World Cup in Brazil to record their ninth trip to the main event.
“This may be my last one, but I am so happy at getting the chance to watch a tournament in Brazil,” Pannalal said during his travel to South America. “It’s always been my dream to watch the World Cup in Brazil. It’s the Mecca of football.”
Both fans of the sport, the Chatterjees – who live in Kolkata – have volunteered since the 1970s at local events to stay connected with Indian sports. They attended their first World Cup in 1982 when a family friend got them tickets to go watch Diego Maradona in Spain.
Four years later, the Chatterjees attended the World Cup in Mexico where Maradona led Argentina to a World Cup victory.
“The final between Argentina and West Germany was unforgettable. The Argentinians won 3-2 and there was so much excitement,” he said, still remembering the match as if it was yesterday.
The family’s passion, however, has caught the eyes of the event’s organizers. Knowing that flights and accommodations can be tough for a middle-class family, a local television company has funded the tickets while FIFA has agreed to provide free accommodations for the two while in Brazil.
“For the last four years, I have been holding back from eating my favourite fish and many days my stomach has been half-empty to make sure that we have enough money for this tournament in Brazil,” Chatterjee said.