Dear Football,

I was watching you last night for one last time this season, and a thought suddenly struck me as to how different my past year would have been without your presence; not just for me but for the millions of people around the globe who survive solely on your existence.

When the sun was setting in Estadio Do Drago in Porto, the sky was blue like never before. The blue got darker in the shade as the clock was ticking towards the 90th minute. The same was the case of the North London streets which turned into a blue ocean. When Cesar Azpilicueta, just like Caesar from history, lifted his first-ever champions league trophy, we officially drew the curtains of 'Club Football' for this season in Europe.

Yes, it takes a toll on a player mentally and physically to be your fan and a follower after all that we have endured in the past year. It was truly a melancholic moment when people were forced to leave their normal lives behind and remain in the confines of their homes indefinitely. A year and a half in isolation cost us our jobs, loved ones, and the simple joys of life.

It is naturally a miserable experience for any player to not step on the pitch for more than a year. A place where we leave our sorrows and worries, a place that helps us forget the past, and one that gives us the chance to seize each moment in its full glory.

I must admit that we missed you. We truly cherish the memories of playing in the local neighborhood, our clubs, playgrounds, or in any dingy space we could manage to play. We miss the rainy days that shunned indoor sports leading us to the muddy grounds where we slid tackles, bruised knees, covered ourselves in mud, and oh ya, the adrenaline rush that only you could offer us. We miss those late-night matches at the 'turf parks', 'kicks on grass' and 'fiction arena' post a tiring workday that seemed never-ending. How can I not talk about the 11th-hour hassle to find one last player to make the team even, the laborious math, and the intense scrutiny to divide the booking cost among the players("magaa amale kodithinii"), those post-match analyses of the opponents game and cherishing the short 'tikitaka' that we did with our favorite player on our defensive half, that nutmeg you pulled off accidentally against the best player on the pitch which helps you survive the whole year, never-ending post-match catch up at Bobs Bar and Machaa, is there anything we don't we miss about you ?.

We have a whole lot to thank for what you did for us during these trying times. It was a shocker for us to hear about and go through the restrictions brought in due to 1st wave during when we could hardly play the game but thank you for staying alive in our heads and hearts in the form of Premier League, Laliga, Bundesliga, Fantasy Premier League. The dilemma of choosing a player in FPL, of sticking to Kane or Vardy, praising Bielsa and lads for making us believe that no team can be written off, screaming all out for that last-minute goal Lanzini, all the transfer rumors, the never-ending VAR debates, and the top 4 finish discussions. You helped us hold onto our sanity in isolation.

Many people are struggling to pass their time during this pandemic and have no real outlets for their emotions when they are dealing with major roadblocks in life - be it losing the job or struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one. We football fanatics have it a whole lot easier in the sense that we deal with similar situations by immersing ourselves in the game. You not only kept us stable and engaged but also made us better people throughout our journey.

This little fantasy of us about you made us patient as we waited every weekend to watch our favorite club play and find joy in little things like wondering if they could win or may draw against a formidable Manchester city at their fortress. Losing a game comes with crucial learnings such as not giving up on our club and hoping for a better tomorrow. Every single time I log into Twitter to praise my club I make new friends, I appreciate their views, culture, and passion towards you. You united our differences in caste, creed, color, and boundaries.

Every time I decide to make a transfer to FPL, I was forced to rethink multiple times to ensure I kept the interests of the team over my interest. More often than never I was forced to make decisions based on historic data than my intuitions. I started managing my expectations every time my player misfired or when my club lost royally. Being an Arsenal supporter that is what you taught me this season.

The best thing about you is that that there is always a next game, a better season, a better tomorrow. Hope is one thing you never took away from us. Borrowing the words of Andy "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies". We know that this shall also pass.
I have learned more from you than I have in the past 20 years through my academic education.

In the form of Euros, you turned out to be our lifeline even during this second wave. The country we support comes second to none, friends become enemies for the next 2 months. I am sure you will never fail to surprise us with the best memories to cherish before we go to sleep. Many people are going to find solace in you for the next two months. I don't have enough words to express my gratitude towards your existence. Thanking you for bringing people, cultures, and nations together.
By the time this letter reaches you, I will be in a new city named Mumbai. Out of all the problems awaiting me in the city, I will find comfort in you and survive like always. If you are a Mumbaikar reading this open letter of mine, feel free to ping me for a game. Let us meet over a match when this pandemic is over. Also if you happen to visit Decathlon Store in Belapur, I will be in the Football section towards the end, practicing a post-match football interview that might never happen.

With Love
Kevin Sunny

The ones excited for the Euros, do drop in at your nearest Decathlon Outlet and check out our Euro Merchandise - (link). Who would not want to watch the match without being fully decked up?
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