Indian football fan cycles to Russia to watch World Cup
A die-hard soccer fan from Kerala, Clifin Francis, cycled to Russia to watch the World Cup tournament. He first flew to Dubai from Kerala on February 23, took a ship to the port city of Bandar Abbas, the capital of Iran's Hormozgan province, before embarking on his cycling odyssey to Russia. "I'm very happy. It was a four-month-long journey," 28-year-old Francis said. Here's more.
Francis said he bought a ticket for the France-Denmark match on June 26 and was waiting to watch it with his fingers crossed. Sharing his experience about the journey, Francis said he witnessed both good and bad. Francis said though all his papers, including visa, were in order, he was denied permission to enter Georgia through Azerbaijan, forcing him to take an alternative route.
"Felt sad at their (authorities') behavior as a German-cyclist was allowed to take the (direct) route. But there were times when I saw the goodness in human beings...people whom I had never met gave me shelter, the warmth of their homes, offered food," Francis said.
After obtaining his BTech degree, Francis worked at Infopark at Kakkanad in Kochi for some time, before taking up a job as a mathematics teacher at a coaching school, his paternal uncle Sam said. "He was always a hard worker and slogged at the coaching class without taking any leave and saved as much as he could to have his dream fulfilled," Sam added.
Francis said he celebrated his birthday with the residents of Maymeh in Iran, enjoying the hot kebabs they served with "Istak", a local drink, an experience he would never forget. The local people there are great fans of Indian film stars like Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, and Mithun Chakraborty, while the younger ones especially enquired about Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai, he said.
Francis, who hopes to reach Moscow by June 21, said it is his long-cherished dream to meet Lionel Messi. When asked if he would be able to make it come true, he said, "I have reached this far. I am an optimist. My desire is to meet Messi. (I) Don't know if it is possible...I am a die-hard fan of his."