Citizen Sports Journalist

The Struggle of being a Maidan-e-Football club fan:A Fan’s perspective-Aritra Majumder

Aritra Majumder: 
Today Kolkata football fan fraternity is confronting multi-front challenge of existential crisis. Today it is hard to believe East Bengal and Mohun Bagan were famous in whole of South Asia, a few decades ago. There are many facets to this challenge. Then called the National Football league , we had 6 trophies in Kolkata, 3 each for the two giants. Only the two Kolkata giants survives of all the teams that participated in the inaugural NFL’96. Except a Kolkata fan (and only a few in the rest of India) no one can recall the JCT of 1996-97, Salgaocar of 1998- 99, Dempo of 2004-05, Mahindra United of 2005-06 or the teams which were Achilles heel for the big clubs, Vasco, Sporting Goa, Viva Kerala, Chirag United and a team that spurned out young players each year namely Air India. Definitely for the new franchise team supporters these names are from a different Galaxy. For us, they were opponent whom we even today miss because of our shear mutual reverence. These clubs became defunct or extinct in the 21st century. In mid-2000 the league was renamed I-League. Collectively Kolkata has only one I-League. The increased accessibility of world football and the “not so good” standards of Indian clubs has made many of my generation follow only European football, and we can’t blame them. So, Barcelona, MAN U, Chelsea, Real Madrid is Coming to Bengal’s Santosh trophy campaign, Bengalis had football as their identity and a mark of dominance (Like Mumbai in cricket). Bengal’s dominance in the Santosh Trophy championship declined in the early 2000. Even the contribution of Kolkata teams to the national team is minimal. A latest front that opened up is the ISL, We all aware fans know about the tussle between the corporate clubs and the two Veterans. The Kolkata clubs are facing financial crunch and no have sponsors of their own. And no corporate firm has magnanimously lent in helping hands, it hurts because these two single handedly through a period of about 70 years carried the torch of football in India, now suddenly find themselves irrelevant among newbies. New comers are WELCOME and are foundation pillar of growth of Football in different states of India, but we must never forget our predecessors who carried this baton till today. As a fan I would want my club to be like Real Madrid of Spain and not like Sheffield United of British Isles. Both are two of the oldest clubs in the world. Real Madrid is still relevant today and probably is one of the top clubs of the world and Sheffield has submerged within its own country, overshadowed by London and Manchester clubs. As a fan I pray to the footballing gods, may the i-leauge clubs get a sponsor and there is one unified league. The above thinking was purely subjective, if one objectively analyses the situation of the two Kolkata giants. Can we blame any outsider for our current situation? Alas! That question answers itself. We are million fans strong club and haven’t built on that. Professional setup was never there. Bengaluru Fc a neophyte has done in a decade that we couldn’t achieve in a century. Oh! I forgot to mention my allegiance (Eastbengal or Mohunbagan) but I won’t disclose it, as Kolkata football fans we must be united in this exigency irrespective of our allegiance. Remember “Football fans share a universal language that cuts across many cultures and many personality types”

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