24 Dec Bleed blue with Australia’s Swami Army on Boxing Day
In true Desi style, the Swami Army will once again band together for the iconic Boxing Day Test Match at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG), marking the start of the third test between India and Australia.
Formed off the back of the 1999-2000 Indian tour of Australia, the Swami Army kicked off as a small group of Indian-Australians who were travelling around the country to support the Indian national cricket team.
Managing Director Angadh Singh Oberoi and Director of Operations Kartik Ayyalasomayajula said around the time of the Army’s formation, cricket crowds were known to be rough and Indian fans were in the minority.
“The boys banded together and decided to keep it going and formed this community where everyone is travelling around the country and the world to watch the cricket,” Angadh said.
It’s cool that it has been a bridge between my Indian heritage and my Australian nationality, and as Australians it’s a sport that we’re quite drawn to, and obviously as Indians as well.
“It’s not just a game, it is an experience, and we feel that’s what we help provide, for people to be able to express themselves while they’re singing, dancing and chanting, and really building that community around the sport.
“It not only provides that avenue for Indian cricket fans, but it also seems to be rubbing off on opposition fans as well, and it gives them a gateway into our culture.”
As some of the most passionate fans of cricket, the Indian supporter-base around the world has grown tremendously over the years, a phenomenon that Angadh credits to the first time India won the World Cup in 1983.
“It gave everyone some hope that India can compete on the world stage at something, and in turn, Indians realised we could actually compete on the world stage at anything,” he said.
“With any team, really, a lot of people support them when the team is doing really well and I suppose it’s probably the one sport where we’ve really stood out and done well on the world stage, with the exception of hockey,” Kartik added.
Today, the Swami Army is the largest, organised group of supporters of the cricket team, and have been working formally alongside Cricket Australia since 2011, a partnership that has led them to be allocated designated areas at each major cricket ground in Australia.
On Boxing Day 2018, the Swami Army are organising for Indian supporters to come together the morning of the game to celebrate the start of the third test in the series.
It has become such a big part of the sporting diet here in Australia, not just in Melbourne, and internationally as well, and it’s one of those marquee events that everyone wants to be part of.
“It’s also such an iconic venue, especially when it’s pumping and full with people, it’s quite an exciting experience,” Angadh said.
The Swami Army are also hosting a charity event at the end of Boxing Day, to raise money for the Chappell Foundation, a charity working to provide food and shelter to homeless youth in Australia, and will feature special guest commentator Harsha Bhogle.
To find out more about other events the Swami Army are hosting, click HERE to visit their website.