Football is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world’s most popular sport. It is the second most popular sport in India and is massive in the states of West Bengal, Goa, Kerala and North-East, especially Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim. Football was originated in England in the 12th Century and it was brought to India by the British Empire. It was initially played to unify Indian Army and used to be the Indian national sport.
The game is administered by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which is affiliated with the regional Asian Football Federation and with the worldwide body FIFA. The Federation Cup, Durand Cup, Indian Super Cup, Santosh Trophy and IFA Shields are popular national level tournaments. I-League is India’s top domestic league and is home to most famous football clubs. There are more than 6,540 clubs registered with the AIFF and the culture of football is growing by the day. In September 2006, India and Brazil signed an agreement formalizing a scheme to train Indian footballers and coaches.
A local coach or academy would be a good place to begin learning football for anyone. Besides natural health benefits, football is known to highly improve balance and foot-eye coordination in players. However, people who have suffered from any form of heady injury should be careful while pursuing football.
Trivia: In 1889 India’s oldest current team Mohun Bagan A.C. was founded as Mohun Bagan Sporting Club. This was the first club to be under the rule of the army. The first Indian Federation, the Indian Football Association, was founded in 1893 but did not have a single Indian in the board.
Quote: “If we really want to become a good football nation, we need to work at grass-root level, we need to open more and more academies with top facilities.”
– Bhaichung Bhutia, Former Captain of Indian National Football TeamFootball