‘Sports brings people closer’: Pakistani, Indian students in Belgium watch World Cup clash together

BRUSSELS: The high-intensity India-Pakistan match always gets fans excited, and in a way, the sport helps bring people from across the border closer.

In Europe, from Paris to Milan and Amsterdam to Berlin, Pakistani and Indian cricket fans watched the T20 World Cup clash between the two nations in groups at several places.

But in Brussels, Indian and Pakistani students from two major Belgium universities — KU Leuven and ULB Brussels — gathered in the heart of Europe, for the screening organised by the South Asian Student Society (SASS).

“Experiencing the mother of all games with our Indian friends was a surreal experience,” the society’s co-founder, Mahrukh Mirza, said in a statement.

As always, the biggest of all clashes brought about patriotism on both ends, but what was particularly heartening to witness was to see both communities appreciating each other’s team despite the occasional friendly tension, Mirza said.

Pakistan defeated their arch-rivals by romping to a ten-wicket victory in the T20 World Cup fixture in Dubai on Sunday, sparking starkly contrasting reactions.

The win was Pakistan’s first against India in 13 World Cup matches (seven in the 50 over World Cup and six in the T20 World Cup) dating back to 1992 in Australia.

Mirza said nationals from countries sang each other’s national anthems, terming it a “wholesome moment”.

“It goes to show how sports can transcend decades-old rivalries and promote peace” she added.

Lanky paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi put India on the back foot from the start, bagging the wickets of openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul off his first seven deliveries.

Mansi Singh, who is also a member of the SASS society, said although India lost, he was still smiling from ear to ear watching the energy of Pakistanis when their nation won.

“Indians were hugging and congratulating Pakistanis and Pakistanis were including Indians in their winning dance. The atmosphere was unreal,” he said.

Singh said the energy was high and quite thrilling as love beyond borders was strongly visible during the experience.