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11 Jul 2018

Pals must to watch game in Sikkim

A musical programme ahead of the World Cup in Gangtok. File picture
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Jul 11, 2018,  Gangtok: Friendship and football appear to be the preferred combo of the World Cup in Sikkim this time as the quadrennial event enters the business end on Tuesday night.

Most football lovers The Telegraph spoke to on the eve of the first semi-final between France and Belgium said they would prefer to watch the matches with their friends either at their homes or by hiring rooms in hotels.

This probably could be because, unlike in the past, there are no screening of matches in large public spaces like cinema halls.

Sikkim forest and environment minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha has been watching the major part of the tournament on a large screen he has put up in his house at Singhik village near the North Sikkim headquarters of Mangan, and will do the same on Tuesday night.

"I am what I am because of my friends. It is such an honour and a privilege to watch the World Cup with them back at my native village," he said.

Lepcha left Gangtok for his village, which is about 55km from here, in the afternoon to watch the game with his pals, but unlike them, he will have to rush back to the capital in time for the Assembly session on Wednesday morning.

Nabin Subba, who arrived here a couple of days back from Kanpur where he is a student of the Indian Institute of Technology, has booked a room in a hotel for a night along with four or five of his friends to watch the match together.

"I am on a summer break. We friends decided to catch up with each other over football. We plan to have super fun tonight," he said.

His friend Sujal chuckled that there would be more than football on the palate to keep the friends going for the late night game.

Elsewhere, friends from colleges, offices and neighbourhoods have decided to spice up the once-in-the-four-year occasion by indulging in friendly betting.

"Since the start of the World Cup, we in our office have been laying wagers on the outcome of the match. About 10 or 12 of us contribute Rs 100 each in a pool. The guy who can predict the match score gets to keep the spoils. In case of more than one winner, the booty is shared among the winners. If there is no clear winner, the pool money is carried forward to the next match," explained a man on the condition of anonymity.

In some neighbourhoods, too, spot-betting like predicting the goal scorers are taking place. "The betting is just to increase the fun quotient," said a college student. 

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