Manchester United, Chelsea, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Liverpool, there are innumerable European clubs that have made their mark all around the world. It might startle many when they are told about football clubs in India.
However, like the European Clubs, Indian Clubs too have their own fan following, and several loyalists still cheer during the matches, only thing is the numbers are rapidly dwindling. Even the National Football League is trying to glamorize and revive the Game; however, due to lack of infrastructure to improve player fitness, tactics and techniques, football clubs, still continue to remain largely obscure.
Although the Indian national football team occupies a bottom rank in FIFA rankings, the country boasts of a prosperous domestic circuit, thanks to a number of good quality football clubs. These football clubs serves as the stepping-stones for all players aspiring to make it big at the highest level. The initial journey of club formation began from home of Indian football- Kolkata.A number of clubs originated in the pre-independent India itself like; Mohun Bagan.
Going back to pages of history, Mohun Bagan became the first Indian club to break the stranglehold of British teams (based in India), over the IFA Shield. This victory helped Indian Football in a major way and announced its emergence in a big way. The East Bengal club is one of the recent clubs in India, which has registered enviable record both in India and abroad. AIFF, in 1996 the started the National Football League to give a fillip to club-level competition in the country. In order to grab the top NFL honours, Indian clubs have invested heavily on overseas players and coaches.
Mohun Bagan Athletic Club
The oldest Football club in Asia was founded in India, the Mohun Bagan AC, in 1889. Since its inception, the green and maroon club has earned the reputation of being one of the finest outfits in the country. In 1911, Mohun Bagan became the first Indian team to win a major tournament, when they clinched the IFA Shield by defeating the East Yorkshire Regiment. In those pre-independence days, the historic win over an English team sparked off widespread jubilation and has since become a part of Indian football folklore. In 1989, during the club's centenary year, the Government of India issued a postage stamp to commemorate the 1911 victory of the team. The Government honoured Mohun Bagan with the title the "National Club of India" for the spurt in nationalism created by that famous win.
Kingfisher East Bengal FC
East Bengal Club established on August 1, 1920, stands tall among its peers by virtue of an enviable record both in India and abroad. Over the years, East Bengal's classic battles with city-rivals Mohun Bagan have become a part of Indian football folklore. In 1942, East Bengal club secured its first league triumph, and the following year it won the IFA Shield. Since then, the red and gold brigade has only got better and has earned the reputation of being one of the most outstanding clubs in the country. The Club has made it a habit of rewriting record books. East Bengal was the first team to win the coveted National Football League in back-to-back years (2002-2003 & 2003-2004). In 2003, East Bengal became the first Indian club to win any Asian level football tournament when they demolished Thailand's BEC Terro Sasana 3-1 in the final of the LG ASEAN Cup in Jakarta.
Mahindra United is sponsored and managed by automobile giants Mahindra Group. The club was founded in 1962 as Mahindra & Mahindra but was rechristened as Mahindra United in 2000. The club is fondly known as India's Manchester United after English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United. The 2005-06 seasons proved to be a watershed for Mahindra as they became the first club in the history of Indian football to win the Federation Cup and NFL Premier Division double in the same season.
Mohammedan Sporting Club
Mohammedan Sporting Club is the second oldest football club in India after Mohun Bagan. Along with city giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting keeps the Kolkata flag flying in the national circuit.
Salgaocar Sports Club is sponsored by V. M. Salgaocar Group of Companies and is one of the most successful Goan outfits in recent years. It became the first Goan side to win the NFL in 1998-99 under the guidance of Coach Shabbir Ali.
FC Kochin is a Kochi based football club in India. It is located in the state of Kerala and is the first professional football club in India. In the later phase of 1990s and early years of 2000s, F. C. Kochin was the sole flag bearer of football teams from the state of Kerala in the National Football League. Although, in the recent times we see that with success the team is doing exceedingly well. Kochin plays at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kaloor.
Churchill Brothers S.C
Churchill Brothers S.C is a football club from India based in Salcette, Goa. This team from Goa participates in the I-League matches. The name of the club was taken from Churchill Braz Alemao and plays its home matches of I-League at Fatorda stadium in Margao, Goa. This club happens to be one of the top teams of Goa that has won the Goa League for total of six times, the last being in 2001.
Shillong Lajong F.C
Shillong Lajong F.C. is a club from Shillong, Meghalaya set up in the year 1983 with the main aim of enhancing the sorry state of football in the state. It also looks to spot, nurture and carefully train local raw talent and help them turn into professional players. In the local Khasi language Lajong means "our-own". The club has its head quarter in Shillong, also known as "The Scotland of the East". As a result of easy accessibility Lajong has the privilege to, have in command, most number of student populations from the North-East region of the country. The boys have the opportunity to get used to the game from a very young age. Shillong Lajong F.C. has a powerful fan base in the North Eastern part of the country and is under professional management group.
Sporting Clube de Goa
Sporting Clube de Goa is a football club based in the state of Goa. It participates in leading tournaments of India like the I-League matches. It is well-known for its football team formed on the lines of Portuguese giants Sporting Clube de Portugal and accepting a similar club crest. The club Cidade de Goa (Portuguese for City of Goa) was purchased by Sporting's current owners and renamed as Sporting Clube de Goa in 1999.
Vasco Sports Club is a Goan football club which participates in the 2nd Division of I-League which is second most important football league in India. Inhabitants from port town of Vasco da Gama, Goa, in 1951, including the Portuguese fort situated there formed the football club called Clube de Desportos Vasco da Gama. Presently the club uses the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa for all the I-League matches.
Dempo Sports Club
Dempo Sports Club is a popular football club from Panjim, Goa. The club has won many titles and is a very strong team from India. The owner of the club is Dempo group of companies, and the company is the main sponsor for the club as well. The team is fashionably known as 'The Whites'. Dempo Sports Club, as it stands currently, has been playing their game in Margao, Goa at Fatorda Stadium, which was set up in the year 1989. And for all its I-League matches Dempo Sports Club has been using this stadium
ONGC F.C. is a popular football club from Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra. The word ONGC stands for "Oil and Natural Gas Corporation". This football team was set up by the public sector undertaking ONGC Ltd and presently plays in the 2nd Division of theI-League.