The season’s first Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati is all set to witness one of Asia’s largest hand-painted tifos being displayed at the stadium by the fans.
Highlander Brigade, the supporters’ group of the NorthEast United FC, is preparing a massive 12,375 sq ft banner highlighting the culture and heritage of the region. The tifo will be displayed during the home team’s first ISL match of the season against Mumbai City FC on September 24.
“This is the largest tifo being displayed during a match in Asia. Manjappada, the fan club of the Kerala Blasters, unfurled a 11,841-sq ft printed tifo last year. However, what makes our tifo special is that it is hand-painted,” said a core member of the Highlander Brigade.
He added that it is a self-funded initiative of the members and they themselves made the tifo, which took around 15 days for completion. “We took around 5 days for stitching the cloth and 10 days thereafter for drawing and painting. Rain in Guwahati affected the paint-work and hence we moved to Abhayapuri in Bongaigaon district to complete the same as we got a covered shed there,” the Highlander Brigade member added. He also thanked Abhayapuri Kala Parishad Bhawan for providing them the space.
The 165 ft x 75 ft banner, which require at least 7-8 people to carry, should cover a large section of the South East Stand at the stadium.
Acknowledging the importance of the fans, NEUFC head coach Juan Pedro Benali on September 23 said: “For us, the supporters are our player number 1. We know that they are pushing us in a good way. We need to honour them. Any player who goes on the field needs to give 1000 per cent for these people who have been with us all through this.”
Thanking the fans, NEUFC captain Gaurav Bora said that they have always pushed the players to give something extra on the field. “We are thankful to the fans for their continued support. It’s been a very long time. We want to play well and win the cup for them. It’s a process and we are taking it step by step,” he said.