A can of a soft drink, snacks, team banners, flags, and a group of football enthusiasts donning the kits of the teams they support. This is what a Saturday evening or a Wednesday night resembles for many across the country. The craze for football in India has been increasing over the past decade; evident by the rising viewership of tournaments.

Creating a stadium-like atmosphere is where accessories come into play. Based in Mumbai, Goalsquad.com, an online retailer for football merchandise and apparel, has leveraged this growing craze among youngsters. Founded by sibling duo Aashay Shah and Rushang Shah in January 2014, this online retail platform is among the first in India to sell the official, authorised merchandise of the world’s biggest football clubs.

“Today, a majority of club merchandise sold in sports shops are counterfeit ones. The original wares are sold only by a handful of stores, like the official Manchester United outlets. However fans of Chelsea, Real Madrid or AC Milan have no option of purchasing genuine gear representing their clubs,” says Aashay Shah.

Stick to your guns An avid football fan himself, Shah was inspired when he was gifted a genuine merchandise of a team by a friend. “I thought of of starting something on these line and e-commerce was an upcoming sector. I had no prior retail experience, but the notion of selling genuine merchandise to football fans appealed to me. We cater across India and have orders from all over.”

Shah said they follow an inventory-based model. “We contacted clubs in Europe and told them we were serious about the idea and sought license to sell their products here. They took time to respond, but we persisted.”

Price benefit According to Aashay, a fan purchasing any merchandise online from a club’s official store has to cough up shipping charges, duties and wait for over a week for the delivery. Goalsquad purchases the goods in bulk at a reduced price and is adequately stocked with these wares.

The benefit gets passed on to the customer as the shipping and duty is taken care of, all at once. The clubs too, stand to gain as it boosts their sales in a foreign land.

Recently, the company also introduced a new category for NBA merchandise and looks to cater to the basketball fans with this move.

On plans to leverage the increasing craze of football and tie-ups with fan clubs, Shah said that they plan to increase the product categories.

“We don’t have funds since we are a new firm. We have a fantasy league of our own and market ourselves through low-scale events. During the end of the season, around the end of April, up to mid-May, when crunch matches take place, is the time when screenings attract huge crowds. We plan to hold some events with fan clubs at that time.”