Chennai Super Kings on Thursday flagged off a special train called “Whistle Podu Express” with 14 coaches carrying about a thousand of their fans from Chennai to Pune for their match against Rajasthan Royals on Friday.
The fans’ expenses including the “train fare, food, accommodation, local transportation, match tickets and jersey” will be borne by the team management, a press release stated.
Followers of the team, returning to the Indian Premier League after two years, were disappointed after their home matches were moved out of the city due to security concerns rising from theCauvery dispute.
“After the games were cancelled, all of us were disappointed. So, we’d asked the team management to arrange for travelling to Pune or some sort of a discount like free match tickets or something,” Prabhu, a key member of the fan club, told The Field.
But the management went one step further, they roped in the team sponsors and coordinated with the Railways to arrange a special train for the fans.
Two hundred and fifty of the thousand fans are from the official fan club, according to Prabhu. “We conduct blood donation drives, orphanage visits and things like that. So, these guys are the ones who volunteer for such things. The rest we picked through social media by verifying the match tickets they got for the Chennai games,” he said.
But despite the cost-free arrangement, the fans are still disappointed about not getting to watch the team play in Chennai. “Nothing can take away from watching them play at Chepauk. Because there are old people, girls, children who can’t travel all the way. There are people who come with their families to watch the games. So, they will all be missed,” he asaid.
The press release added that CSK plans to organise something similar for all its home games in Pune, subject to availability of trains.