Bharat Army, the Indian cricket team supporters’ club akin to the British Barmy Army, will have nearly 8,000 fans from 22 countries converge in the United Kingdom to support Virat Kohli’s team in the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup.
The Bharat Army started with four fans bumping into each other throughout the 1999 World Cup in the UK. Since then, thanks to the four men’s efforts, it has grown manifold.
According to the International Cricket Council, the Bharat Army will have a presence of 5,000-6,000 fans at every India match.
“The Bharat Army has now grown from being a UK-based supporters’ group to having a global presence with regional heads,” Rakesh Patel, one of the Bharat Army founders, was quoted as saying by the ICC. “(They) help grow our supporters’ group in the UK, India, UAE, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.”
Patel has been travelling the world for almost 30 years supporting India at different stadiums. “I have hundreds of ticket stubs and match-day programmes of all the matches I’ve been to around the world,” he said.
“Including that first match I saw live in 1990 at Trent Bridge, and Sachin’s (Tendulkar) last match representing India I followed his whole career like many Indians, so had to be in Mumbai to see his last moment.”
Bharat Army Travel was set up in 2015 because of the “increasing demand of Indian cricket fans wanting to travel with us to major tournaments and series around the world”.