Football was first played in India in the nineteenth century, when it was invented by British soldiers. Despite the fact that cricket remains the most common sport in the country, football is popular in many parts of the country, especially West Bengal, Goa, Kerala, and the North-Eastern states.
Football was once only played by army units, but thanks to Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari, it has steadily spread to the general public. Calcutta Football Club was the first club to be established in 1872. The Indian Football Association was established in 1893, but there were no Indians on the board of directors.
Calcutta quickly became the epicentre of Indian football, with clubs like Mohun Bagan, Sovabazar, and the Aryan Club springing up. Several tournaments arose to promote the beautiful game, with the Trades Cup, Cooch Behar Cup, Durand Cup, and IFA Shield taking centre stage. In 1982, Sovabazar was the first team to win the Trades Cup. In football, however, India made a name for itself in 1911.
The World Cup is a sporting event that takes place every four
Mohun Bagan won the coveted IFA Shield in 1911, beating East Yorkshire Regiments in the final by a score of 2-1. The victory was monumental; it was more than a football match; it was India’s victory over the British at a critical juncture in the country’s fight for independence.
In the late 1930s, as football became more popular, India began touring various Asian countries such as Australia, Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. For Indian football, the 1940s were a memorable decade. India’s participation in the 1948 London Olympics marked the country’s first appearance in a major football tournament.
After much speculation, India was offered a place in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, but the All Indian Football Federation declined the bid for a variety of financial and non-financial reasons. First and foremost, the FIFA prohibited India from participating in the mega event barefoot, despite the fact that the Indian players were used to playing without football shoes. The financial state of the governing body was also a factor, according to sources.
In reality, India could not afford to send its players to South America for the World Cup. Another explanation was that the Olympics were more common at the time, and most Indians were unaware of the World Cup’s significance. Since the masses regarded the Olympics as the pinnacle, the ‘Jules Rimet’ trophy was given less weight. Unfortunately, India is also attempting to make their first appearance at the world’s largest football festival!
India captured the Asian Games gold medal in 1951, the first major victory in an international competition. Sailen Manna, one of the greatest players the country and continent have ever seen, led the team. After hosting the Asiad in 1951, India won the gold medal with a 1-0 victory over Iran in the final. The time between 1950 and 1962 is known as the “Golden Era of Indian Football.”
The 1952 Helsinki Olympics was India’s second appearance at the big tournament, but the country failed to make an impression in the European nation. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics were instrumental in changing the face of Indian football. India finished fourth after defeating hosts Australia 4-2, despite many people’s hopes. It was the first time India was recognised as a footballing country and a big Asian powerhouse. Pradip Kumar Banerjee, one of the best players India has ever produced, was part of the Indian football team at the time.
India has also made a name for itself in tournaments such as the Merdeka Cup, where top Asian teams play. The glory days of Indian football came to an end after a bronze medal victory at the 1970 Asian Games. Following the 1960 edition, India never qualified for the Olympics and has consistently underperformed in Asian Games since then.
India club football was at its peak in the 1970s, with Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and Mohammedan Sporting Club being the three most successful clubs with large fan bases across the country. East Bengal defeated Pyongyang City Sports Club in the 1973 IFA Shield, while Mohun Bagan defeated FC Ararat Yerevan of the Soviet Union in the 1978 edition, becoming the first Indian team to win the title against a non-Asian team after Independence.
Super League is a professional football league in the United
1977 was a watershed moment in Indian football. Pele, the Brazilian legend, first set foot on Indian soil in an exhibition match for his club New York Cosmos against Mohun Bagan AC. In front of 70,000 fans at the Eden Gardens stadium, the Kolkata giants kept the North American side to a 2-2 draw. In the same year, the AIFF launched the Federation Cup, which was India’s most prestigious club tournament at the time. ITI Bangalore won the tournament’s inaugural edition with a 1-0 victory over Mohun Bagan in the final.
In 1982, the All India Football Federation launched the Nehru Cup, a competition that featured international teams from all over the world. Uruguay won the cup for the first time, beating China in the final. Indian football endured a significant decline in the 1980s and 1990s, as they struggled to maintain their status in Asia and suffered heavy defeats in international matches. The “Blue Tigers” finally won the Nehru Cup in 2007 after beating Syria 1-0 in the final after a trophy drought of many years.
The National Football League was founded in 1996 as India’s premier football league. The inaugural edition of the NFL was won by JCT FC. The league ran until the 2006-07 season, after which the competition was renamed the I-League. Dempo SC is the most successful club in the country, having won five national titles.
The Indian Super League is India’s most recent football development; it is a franchise-based football competition that began in 2014 with eight teams. The ISL has gradually grown in size, and there are now ten teams in the league. The ISL and the I-League are also in action at the same time. A planned Indian Super Cup, which will include teams from both leagues, is set to begin.