Meet Anik Gupta, the young football fanatic ready for the limelight

CARY – Anik Gupta lives and breathes football.

Almost every inch of his bedroom is filled with jerseys and helmets from NFL teams and paintings depicting aspects of the game. He even has a custom painted jersey on the wall with his name on it from his favorite team: the New England Patriots.

The 10-year-old’s passion for football led him to start his own YouTube channel, where he has built a following that predicts and provides analysis of the results of weekly NFL games. After more than two years in front of the camera, the channel – Lil’ Football Fan – has amassed more than 600 subscribers and is still growing.

Gupta started the channel a day after school at the age of 8. He took his mother’s iPhone, recorded a short video about why he loves football and uploaded it online.

“I love football because anything can happen,” said Anik. “You can see a broken tackle, a dive into the end zone, or even a one-handed catch.”

A natural

The idea seemed like just another extracurricular activity for the always energetic Anik. But when he showed the video to his parents, they were surprised by his natural charisma in front of the camera and his in-depth knowledge of the sport.

Anik knew he was the one when he received praise from his father, an avid sports watcher.

“Anik and I talk about football all the time in the house and quiz each other about the players on each team,” said his father Sachin. “But I was really surprised at how natural he is as a sports reporter.”

This natural talent is now fueling Anik Gupta’s career aspirations. He wants to be on the ESPN Sportscenter and share analysis and commentary about football. His favorite thing to do is make predictions about the outcome of games. In fact, it’s his fortune-telling skills that earned him recognition as he accurately picked the winner of every game in the NFL playoffs in 2019 — including the Patriots’ Super Bowl win.

“If I predict a game correctly, I’m just happy,” said Anik. “I want to be the best tipster in the league.”

Those predictions earned him coverage on Raleigh Spectrum News 1, then WRAL-TV, and even an invite from The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Ellen’s performance never materialized, but Anik Gupta’s legacy continued to grow.

On his channel he now has interviews with Gov. Roy Cooper, Buffalo Bills running back Nyheim Hines and Carolina Panthers play-by-play announcer Anish Shroff. But you’d be terribly mistaken if you thought that the status of these big names has shaken Anik’s confidence.

“I’m a little scared at first, but then I kind of calm down,” he said.

Anik calms his nerves with breathing exercises or fuels his passion for the game by playing Madden – an NFL video game.

Ahead of a big interview, Anik said he researches his subject and finds niche details about them – favorite teams and players and previous places of work – to make sure he’s asking the right questions.

A family affair

It helps that Anik has the support of his family to keep improving his channel. His mother, dr. Radhika Gupta, provides the equipment, edits the videos and books all of his celebrity interviews.

“Once everything is done and the kids go to sleep at night, I sit down and do all the contacting, processing, etc.” said Dr. gupta “It’s quite challenging, but I believe in his passion and I want to support him.”

His mother is also leading his channel growth strategy, trying to get Lil’ Football Fan to 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year.

Snippets of his videos are also posted to Facebook and Instagram profiles to increase engagement managed by Parklife Communications. The company also created a website for all of its content: lilfootballfan.com

“We always encourage him to think and take his time with these videos,” said Dr. gupta “If he really wants that, then we want him to do his best, it’s about more than just shooting and uploading a video.”

His father Sachin provides the inspiration for the videos. Their conversations revolve around the games of the week and the league’s latest top players. Anik’s older sister Anushka is also a frequent guest on the show. She knows the game as well as Anik and is quick to bring her own insights about the game to Anik’s videos.

In the Gupta household, football is truly a family affair. The family even keeps their own chart to predict the results of the weekly games; Whoever correctly predicts the most games gets to choose the dinners for the week.

For the love of the game

When he’s not talking about football in front of the camera, Anik nurtures his passion for football in other ways. He is also the commissioner, creator and commentator of the Helmet League – a league in which WWE wrestler action figures wear different teams’ helmets and play a full game of soccer on Anik’s living room floor.

Throw pillows become goalposts, the red flower carpet becomes the 100-yard field, and the two wrestlers become quarterbacks, linebackers, and everyone else on the 53-man roster. Anik comments on every game, gives half-time speeches to the players and even keeps the statistics for his league. Currently, the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers lead the helmet league rankings.

In his spare time, Gupta also plays fantasy football, where he is runner-up in his division, and runs a virtual Madden franchise where his team is 11-0. Somewhere in between all that football, he finds time to play football for North Carolina FC and attend school as a 4th grade student at Thales Academy in Apex.

At school, Anik said that most of his friends are not as passionate about football as he is, so he sees the game as some kind of private passion to get excited about and his YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/@LilFootballFan – is a way to share this passion beyond his social circles.

Anik said he will continue to post weekly predictions and analysis on his Lil’ Football Fan channel as the season wraps up. As for those predictions, he said he believes the Super Bowl will be a battle of birds between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Dr. Radhika Gupta who runs social media and websites for Lil’ Football Fan. These tasks are performed by a communications company: Parklife Communications. The News + Record apologizes for this error.

Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @b_rappaport.



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