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RCB’s 12th man army breaks all gender biases to make WPL experience special

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Bengaluru: Breaking gender biases, the passionate fanbase of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), also called the 12th man army, is offering India a first-ever glimpse of genuine fandom in women’s cricket by rallying in full force to support their team in the ongoing Women’s Premier League (WPL) season.

After the inaugural season of the WPL in Mumbai last year, the second edition of the league has expanded to two cities, with Bengaluru hosting the first eleven matches of the league stage before shifting to Delhi.

The M Chinnaswamy stadium, which is the home stadium of RCB has been witnessing an electrifying atmosphere as a staggering 30,000 cricket enthusiasts gathered to support the RCB Women’s team in most of their league matches played so far.

“I’m used to hearing them yell out Smriti’s name, so it’s sort of quite nice to hear that they’re calling my name. The crowds have been fantastic here. Everyone spoke about RCB fans and how good and passionate they are and it’s been unbelievable to witness that in person in the last couple of games. It’s certainly the loudest I’ve been involved in and to have that support’s been really motivating for the whole group,” said Sophie Devine, the RCB Allrounder and legendary Kiwi cricketer.

As per the recent ‘Indian Cricket Fandom Report 2024’ by YouGov, RCB enjoys consistent support across all age groups with support for the team notably being the strongest among Gen Z (18-24 years) at 38%. The team enjoys 34% support in the 25-34 age group, 31% in the 35-44 age group, 33% in the 45-54 age group, and 31% in the 55+ age group.

The overwhelming support from the tribe has not only added a new dimension to the WPL experience, creating an atmosphere of enthusiasm and encouragement for not just women cricketers but also is a huge boost and encouragement for the RCB team every time they step into the centre.

Sophie further added, “I think back to the start of my career and we were playing in front of ten people, do you know what I mean? And to have, I think, more then 25,000 here, just shows where the woman’s game gone. So really proud to be a part of that.”

Such unprecedented turnout in women’s cricket also reflects the immense impact of RCB’s passionate yet conscious fanbase promoting inclusivity and equality within the sport.

Renuka Singh who had the crowd cheering every time she has gone with her fiery bowling spell said “it is an amazing feeling and gives a different level of momentum to all of us. I just love when they not only chant our name but show so much loyalty for RCB by coming to every game in such huge numbers, it just pumps us up during our game like anything.”

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