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How content creators are making sports simpler, one reel at a time

An exciting crop of Indian Instagram content creators is breaking down the nuances of football and Formula 1 with interesting snippets

Shashwat Mishra, 32, is better known as TheDrogBaba on Instagram and his other social media handles. Some of his football explainers have racked up millions of views on Instagram.
Shashwat Mishra, 32, is better known as TheDrogBaba on Instagram and his other social media handles. Some of his football explainers have racked up millions of views on Instagram. (Courtesy: Shashwat Mishra)

The year was 2014, and Samaakshi Jha, then 13-years-old, was watching the Copa Del Rey final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona with her two football-crazy elder brothers.

That match is famous among LaLiga viewers for a winning goal by former Madrid player Gareth Bale. But for Jha, that goal was the moment she fell in love with football—and Real Madrid.

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Since then, Real Madrid has been a constant presence in Jha’s life, pushing her to make content around football through her popular Instagram handle @littiii_chokha (with around 243,000 followers) for the last three years. “I am not a football analyst. For me, the key is to create content that is easy to understand and enjoy for neutral viewers,” Jha, who is from Raipur, Chhattisgarh, says on the phone.

A mural artist by profession, Jha often dives into the meme culture to create her football reels. A vlog on football rakhis—made using club crests—went viral with 5.3 million views. Her reel documenting her meeting with former footballer David Beckham during his recent visit to India has more than 9 million views. “I was connected with Peña Madridista de Bombay (the first official Real Madrid fans’ association in India) through social media. I used to make bite-sized social media content for them, which gave me some more visibility on Instagram,” says Jha, who now plans to create football content full-time.

Jha, 23, is part of an exciting crop of Indian sports content and digital creators on Instagram who break down the nuances of different sports—from football to Formula 1—through exciting formats, topics, content on the social media platform in Hindi, helping them reach a wider audience. There’s trivia, interviews, explainers, quizzes, comedy and other snippets that just make these sports simpler.

Fandom nation

The recent 2024 Instagram Trend Talk insights, which were released in December 2023 and looked at how Gen Z in India will influence culture in 2024, revealed that most Gen Zs in the country belong to a select fandom—be it music or gaming.

Sports-wise, their affiliations span the Indian Cricket Team, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Chennai Super Kings, the Meta insights revealed. “India has the highest percentage of sports superfans, as compared to Gen Z from other countries,” according to a note from Meta. The insights were based on a quantitative survey of approximately 5,000 Gen Z respondents across India, Brazil, South Korea, the UK and the US.

“Clearly, GenZ is leading a shift in the way people use Instagram today. GenZ in India particularly are more excited to try new trends across domains, and that reflects in their interest to affiliate with a passionate community. While globally, top fandoms are about TV shows or anime, musicians and video games, in India, sports trumps them,” Paras Sharma, director, content and community partnerships, Meta, India, says on email.

Creators like Pranay Singh, 29, have tapped into this fandom. Singh (@pranaytfb) started Tackle from Behind, one of India’s largest online football communities, in the middle of covid-19 lockdowns in 2020, with his brother Prateek, inspired by football memes their friends shared on WhatsApp. Tackle from Behind has around 136,000 followers on Instagram alone.

While Tackle from Behind grew into a “desi football community”, including an online store for footballing calendars, fridge magnets and other merchandise, Pranay started documenting his football journey two years ago on his Instagram page, which has more direct and newsy content. For instance, his most recent series of reels, Behind The Crest, looks at different stories behind club logos from across the world. In recent months, he has even posted explainers on transfer deadline day and key updates from the Indian Super League (ISL).

“My earliest memory of watching any sport is football. I have seen World Cup matches with my grandfather and even attended matches at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi. I also want to connect with Manchester City fans in India through my work,” says Pranay. “The goal for 2024 is to become a proper creator, travel more to watch football and document it. Apart from European football, the thing that fascinates me the most is Indian football,” says Singh, who works with ISL club Punjab FC as a digital reporter.

Betting on Hindi

Indian football, often left to play second fiddle to cricket when it comes to fan following, has also found a new lease of popularity through the content these creators generate.

Shashwat Mishra, 32, is better known as @TheDrogBaba on Instagram and his other social media handles. A fan of Chelsea FC, Mishra chose his handle name after the club’s renowned Ivorian striker Didier Drogba. But some of his reels, a mix of trends and storytelling, on India’s prospects of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup and a tribute to famous Mohun Bagan (officially known as Mohun Bagan Super Giant) player Subibal “Chuni” Goswami, have racked up millions of views on Instagram.

Mishra grew up loving both cricket and football, but in 2017, while working in Delhi, he experienced the football screening culture for the first time. “It was the 2017 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea. I was blown away by the turnout,” says Mishra on a video call from Jaipur. “When I came back to Jaipur in 2018, I wanted to bring a similar culture to the city. So, I founded Pink City Blues, which is the official supporters’ group for Chelsea in Jaipur.”

Mishra worked with Bajaj Electricals between 2019-2022 in a sales role as territory head for Jaipur but when the covid-19 lockdowns were implemented, he turned to football and started creating content during that period. In 2021, he started his YouTube channel and Instagram handle, while still working in his sales role. “I used to upload videos on football discussion with my friends. That’s when I saw this untapped space—not many people were creating football content in Hindi,” he adds. “I took a leap of faith in May 2022 and started creating content full-time,” says Mishra, who now makes a financially stable living thanks to YouTube ad revenue and brand collaborations.

The growing popularity of these creators has not gone under the radar, with big sporting brands, fantasy gaming companies and organisations like the Premier League, Carlsberg, Fancode, Decathlon and VUSport, among others, partnering with them for content as well.

While cricket and football have a massive fan following in India, Formula 1, and motorsports in general, is still a niche discipline. But Geet Bagrodia, who started the popular channel @F1WithGeet in 2022, has made a unique space for himself on Instagram with his analysis, explainers and watchalongs (these happen on YouTube due to their long-form nature) on a sport which is highly technical sport.

“I fell in love with Formula 1 when Sebastian Vettel conquered the Indian Grand Prix (winning all three editions between 2011-13). Since then, I have been in and out of the sport, and started the channel in 2022,” says the 32-year-old from Jaipur, who has a background in mechanical engineering and runs his own brand agency in Dubai and Jaipur—his primary source of revenue. “I have slowly moved away from long-form content on F1. That was tough. Now I do bite-sized content in the form of Instagram reels and YouTube shorts.” Bagrodia’s F1 handle on Instagram has 40,000 users.

His content is based on a pick of interesting topics—the evolution of safety cars in F1, the importance of kerbs on an F1 circuit, the science behind the downforce that an F1 car generates, and more. “When you watch F1, there are so many technical questions about the downforce, the T-cam and how it helps you spot different drivers on the track. I asked myself: why not make a video on these questions for a normal viewer, because they won’t have the time to do all this research,” Bagrodia explains during an interview.

Bagrodia says creating content in Hindi has not only worked with Indian viewers but also F1 fans in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “A lot of the people who share my content have texted me to say there are very few Hindi content creators of F1. I think that has become the USP for the channel now,” he adds. “I don’t do it for monetary purposes. Bringing out this content is fun. My aim is to reach at least 100,000 followers.”

Despite the exciting nature of sports content, there are challenges aplenty. Jha says fan abuse in sports is much stronger towards women content creators compared to the rest. “It can go to a whole different level,” she adds.

For the likes of Bagrodia and Mishra—who often rely on big updates from F1 and football—the off-season is a tricky time to navigate. “Content drought is still a big challenge. Staying self-motivated in this space can be difficult,” says Mishra. Despite the bumps, Mishra is optimistic. “India has a crowd for every sport,” adds Mishra, whose aim is to become the “Sportscenter of football for India”.

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