Abhilas Ghosh scores the winner from a Shibdas Bhaduri assist to win it for Mohun Bagan against East Yorkshire Regiment thus establishing football as the most popular game in Bengal. And maybe the inspiration for “sob khelar sera bangalir tumi football.” —- It was the final of the IFA Shield 1911.
India is perceived to be a Mecca for the sports fans out there. Be it for the enduring popularity of Cricket or the recent spurt of football leagues. India’s tournaments have always delighted their fans with a plethora of sports. Some of them fell prey to internal politics while some failed to garner any appreciation, whereas some are currently at their zenith.
In this article, ManipalBlog intends to take you through a ride of nostalgia as we present you with a few of our old, glorious tournaments, which were once media darlings but now they are either abandoned or lying at some obscure corner. Here we go!!!
Glorious India’s Tournaments – The IFA Shield
Having given us one of the most pivotal moments in sports, IFA Shield is the second oldest Cup in the world. Since its inception in 1893, only British teams have dominated the Cup. The breakthrough for an Indian Club came in the form of winning the Cup in 1911. Later on, several teams viz, Mohammedan S.C., Aryan Club, East Bengal won the tournament pre-independence. British teams stopped participating post-independence, thus paving the way for the other Indian clubs to get a hold of the silverware. East Bengal leads the chart with most titles.
Fast forward to 2014, IFA decided to design the tournament as a U-19 and U-18 youth football tournament, leading to its gradual obscurity from the Indian Sports media coverage. Citing the busy schedule of AIFF, the tournament was given a 2nd-grade status.
Glorious India’s Tournaments – The Rovers Cup
The second oldest football tournament in the country, Rovers Cup’s glorious history, is deep-rooted in the British Era. In 1891 some British football fanatics started this tournament, with Bangalore Muslims being the first Indian club to win the title in 1937. Mohun Bagan has won the most titles. The Mariners have won the Cup a record 14 times, closely followed by their arch-rivals East Bengal’s ten titles. Mohun Bagan won the tournament in its last edition in 2000-01. Since then, despite many efforts, the tournament has been in oblivion.
Back in the 90s, Rovers Cup was the top football competition in India. Several top teams participated in the tournament, intending to win the coveted title.
Glorious India’s Tournaments – The Nehru Cup
Indian Football has a rich legacy. It is a shame that many fascinating chapters are overlooked, like the Nehru Cup. The Nehru Cup was launched in 1982 by the AIFF. This international football tournament was named after Jawaharlal Nehru and was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi. However, the tournament was not held from 1998 to 2006 due to sponsorship issues.
The tournament was resumed again in 2007 with ONGC sponsoring the Cup. AIFF also faced financial difficulties leading to the tournament’s cancellation in 2010-11. In 2012, Nehru Cup again took place, and eventually, the Cup was announced to be replaced by a new Champions Cup.
Glorious India’s Tournaments – Indian Open (Tennis)
The history of Lawn Tennis in India can be traced back to the 1880s. A decade after the Wimbledon Championships was launched in Great Britain. In 1910, the All India Tennis Championships was established, and it organized both men’s and women’s matches. In 1946, National Lawn Tennis Championships was launched by the India Lawn Tennis Association and was a part of the Grand Prix Tennis Circuit.
This tournament was played on different surfaces and in different cities. Ramanathan Krishnan won the most titles during the pre-open era, and Vijay Amritraj has won the most during the open era. The tournament was finally abolished in 1982.
Glorious India’s Tournaments – The Indian Grand Prix
Happy about Lewis Hamilton’s new F1 record?
Would you believe it if I told you that F1 racers like Sebastien Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso raced through the Buddh International Circuit in Uttar Pradesh along the Yamuna Expressway? The Indian Grand Prix gave all the F1 fans a delightful treat with its inception in 2011.
However, the 4th edition was ruled out due to a tax dispute with the Uttar Pradesh government. Sebastien Vettel won all the three editions of the race from 2011 to 2013.
All these tournaments mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more sports leagues which are now defunct, and much more are on the verge of getting abolished. Many factors contribute to this, be it lack of viewership, lack of capital investment, or any other internal conflicts.
About the Author: This article is written by Rajasik Mukherjee with inputs from Snigdha Manimoole and Saron Sarkar. Rajasik aka Raj is a sports freak but, wait, cricket doesn’t come in his favorites list. He hails from the land of Maa, Maati, Maanush. He is always in for Football discussions and puns and komedy.