For Clifin, the World Cup is the biggest celebration of football and there was no way he would miss it.
How far would you go to watch your favourite team? Would you take a loan, and book a ticket?
Or like this man, cycle all the way to soak in the festive spirit that only an event like the World Cup can conjure.
28-year old Clifin Francis celebrated his birthday by eating kebabs and drinking ‘istak’ with villagers in Meymeh, Iran. He told The Hindu that as he pedalled through Iran and Azerbaijan, he was welcomed warmly by locals, who spoke of Indian cinema and Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai. The publication also reports that there were Keralites in Azerbaijan, whom Mr Francis met.
This Kerala-based mathematics teacher commenced his cycling voyage from Iran on March 13, and on June 5, crossed over to Russia, and is reportedly en-route Moscow.
Cycling nearly 4,000 km and passing several countries before reaching Russia, Clifin left Kerala on February 23rd. He went to Dubai, where he bought a bicycle, and then went to Iran by ship.
From there, he launched his solo cycling expedition, from Bandar Abbas, the picturesque port city overlooking the Strait of Hormuz.
Clifin is simply combining his loves for cycling and football, he says. He pedalled to the coaching centre and cycled from Kochi to Kanyakumari. Russia happened by chance, as a yearning for joining the biggest soccer party on earth. He told The Hindu that the journey had been quite the experience, soaking in places, cuisines, cultures and making new friends.
His only obstacle sprung up in Georgia, where he was denied entry. Consequently, he had to return to Azerbaijan, and take a different route to Russia, where authorities welcomed him on seeing his FIFA fan identity card. Spending nights in tents in the countryside, he hopes to reach Moscow in six days.
Clifin reached into his savings from his coaching centre teaching job in Ernakulam, and at the end of it all, his effort will result in him witnessing one FIFA World Cup game. Between France and Denmark, in Moscow, on June 26th. Nevertheless, the enthusiastic Clifin wants to get an autograph from Lionel Messi on his bike.
Cycling has become an addiction, and Clifin now wants to embark upon a global cycling tour. He wants to sell his cycle at the end of the Russia tour, buy a new one and go around the globe. Here’s hoping that after his FIFA adventure, he embarks soon on the next!
Featured Image Credit:- Clifin Francis
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)