Football- An Obsession in Kolkata
- Mohammedan Sporting Club
- East Bengal
- Mohun Bagan
took the game to a new level, attracting the best talents in the country.
The city of Kolkata had been the last stop for football fans and stars. Kolkata has been the only city in the past that dominated the Indian football team by contributing 90 per cent of the total players in the team. The Kolkata clubs paid the football players handsomely, however their level of aspiration was restricted to be the owner of a car, a house and respected bank balance. The people of Kolkata loved and preferred the Club a great deal and sometimes even over the country.
In fact, the city of Kolkata and its football clubs dominated the Indian football to a great extent. A huge number of players came from the adjoining districts of Kolkata who enjoyed the superstar tag as top footballers of the state and the country.
Football has a passionate history for the people of Kolkata since the year 1877 when Calcutta (present Kolkata) was still the capital of British East India Company. Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari, a 10 year old Bengali boy was mesmerized by a ball game which was played by the Europeans in the heart of the city. It was he, indeed the first Indian who ever kicked a football.
Nagendra Prasad, in course of time emerged as the father of Indian football. A string of football clubs in Calcutta were set up in Kolkata in the name of Friends, Presidency, Sovabazar, Wellington, Boys Sporting etc and few others directly under his guidance. These clubs began to challenge the British monopoly who thought football belonged to them.
Gradually these clubs took an upper hand and started pulling off a hat trick of victories at the British dominated clubs. These victories paved the relationship of football with Bengalis. Even today the people of Kolkata believe that when it comes to football, the Bengalis are as good as the British. Football was even considered as a powerful tool against the British in Indian freedom struggle. Football found its permanent space in the Bengali heart after Mohun Bagan’s IFA Shield victory in 1911.
Football is an integral part of Kolkata and it would not be an overstatement that ‘’If you are a Bengali you have to support one of the Football clubs.”