Kolkata’s Football Fever: Thriving Passion and Growth in the CFL

Calcutta Football League and its History

The Calcutta Football League was pioneered by the British in the Indian soil. Despite the ruthless imperialism and its malpractices, the Britishers did many things which are still a part of ‘The City of Joy’. One such is “The Calcutta Football League” or popularly known as CFL established back in the year, 1898.

In the early stages, the Britishers and the British regimental teams were part of this football league. Little did they know that Mohunbagan Athletic Club would make such an impact, that too without any fancy boots. In the year 1911, Mohunbagan was the first club that silenced the domination of the British on Indian soil. This made a remarkable change in the course of Indian Football.

Mohunbagan vs East Yorkshire Regiment 1911

After the Independence, the Indian clubs became more noteworthy. Mohunbagan, Eastbengal, and Mohammedan Sporting became the three giants of the Kolkata. Often, it is believed that the rivalry between the Kolkata Giants began during the 1950s-1970s and is marked as a “Golden Era” for Indian Football. Since the inception of this league, continuous evolution and enhancement in the infrastructure helped this football league to flourish in the Indian Football ecosystem.

The history of CFL is a testament to the rich passion for football not only in Kolkata but also in the overall development of Indian football. The league featured several notable foreigners but, the implementation of new laws and regulations from the AIFF that prevents foreigners from taking part in it has successfully made more space for the local lads. Mohammedan SC won the league last year, while Eastbengal sits at the top with the highest count of 39 titles. This year, the CFL Kolkata Derby is on July 13, 2024.

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Format and Teams

This year, CFL merges the two top tiers Premier A and B into a single competition for the 26-team competition. Each of the teams plays once. From each group, 3 teams will qualify for the Super Six for the Championship. The bottom 4 teams will battle to avoid relegation. Each team must contain 7 players from West Bengal and 4 players from any part of the country. The 2023 CFL featured 26 teams, for the first time since the commencement of this league. This year, the same number of teams will participate in the league. Here are the teams which will participate in the upcoming CFL.

Group AGroup B
Mohammedan SCSangbad Pratidin Bhawanipore
Diamond Harbour FCEmami East Bengal
Khidderpore SCMohunbagan Super Giant
Suruchi SanghaGeorge Telegraph
BSS SportingASOS Rainbow AC
Southern SamityCalcutta Customs
Kalighat Milan SanghaPeerless FC
Measurers ClubRailway FC
Aryan FCCalcutta Police
Wari Athletic ClubPolice AC
Army RedTollygunge Agragami
PathachakraKalighat Sports Lovers’ Association
United Sporting ClubEastern Railway
26 teams, 6 qualify for the final round.

Stadiums

The league will be conducted in several venues across the state. Although, Mohunbagan Club Ground is under maintenance and will be unavailable for this year’s tournament. But Eastbengal Club and Mohammedan SC will not fail to bring back the football fiesta in Maidan. Mountain police will start patrolling on match-days and the whole environment will reflect the city’s passion and love for this immortal game.

Naihati Satdium
  • Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay Stadium (Barrackpore)
  • Naihati Bankimanjali Stadium
  • Kalyani A Stadium
  • Bidhannagar MSC Ground
  • Amal Dutta Krirangan (Dumdum Surer Math)
  • Kishore Bharati Krirangan
  • Eastbengal/Aryan Ground
  • Mohammedan/Howrah Union Ground
  • Uluberia Stadium
  • Chinsurah Eastern
  • NSC Kamalgazi
Official match ball of CFL 2024

The Impact of Calcutta Football

The Calcutta Football League, not only serves as a symbol but acts as a golden opportunity for the young local lads. Often this also acts as a platform for developing infrastructure and learning opportunities for the lower division clubs—the entire ecosystem benefits from this. For instance, David Lalhlansanga from Mohammedan scored 21 goals last year and bagged the Golden Boot award. His extraordinary performance earned him a nice cheque and a contract in Eastbengal, and with time he earned his place in the national camp.

David Lalhlansanga after signing for Eastbengal

United Sports has been nurturing young talents under the leadership of Steve Herbots and Nabab Bhattacharya. One such guy is Sayan Das who plays as a stopper. He went to Indian Arrows, but eventually came back to the United SC senior team. Sayan was signed by Mohunbagan Super Giant and will play along with Dippendu, Saurabh, Raj and many more young bloods. This will develop healthy competition in the squad so that every single player can be in their best shape. Moreover, consistency is the key to unlocking opportunities further.

United SC announcing Sayan’s departure

Passion for the Game

The young players must be nurtured very cautiously without hampering their development. They are ones who will make a space for themselves in the National Team. This journey or the game time they acquire must be engraved into their learning experiences, even if they fail to match the high standards. The board and administration of the league must prevent players from getting into match fixing, and other such activities as seen in the previous league. And lastly, the fans must back their players so that they can lose confidence even at their lowest.

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Though when it comes to Kolkata, the stands are decorated with spectators of any age. Standing in a queue for hours in the scorching heat of the sun is a common task for them. Men and women chant their favourite slogans. Drums, microphones, and the cacophony chisel the afternoon along with the winds of dusk. The tea sellers who manage to get into the stadiums enjoy a bit more than on other days.

Football has been a sport for everybody, always and forever.

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