BENGAL: The Soul of Indian Football
Football has always been the major sport in Bengal because of the culture and history, the two old clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are old clubs in India, and Mohun Bagan being a club, even older than clubs like Chelsea and Real Madrid!
The rivalry between East Bengal and Muhan Bagan is deep rooted, It started with Calcutta football league which was dominated by English gave quota for only two Indian teams, Mohun Bagan and Jora Bagan.
A huge footballing force was then trying to get into CFL i.e. East Bengal from (now) the other side of the border. Muhan and Jora both opposed this entry to CFL but then English governed the league and they allowed East Bengal to play. Jora was disbanded after few years and after that partition took place.Both the clubs are very emotionally driven.
Bengal is divided into 3 clubs, Muhun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting. And each has a huge number of die-hard loyal followers. It’s a heavily debatable question on which is a better team but me as a neutral Kolkatan football fan, I feel both clubs are excellent.
If we look at Indian national level football Bengal clinched Santosh Trophy for 32 times in its 71 appearances.About 5-7 Bengal footballers have been representing Indian National time since 1947.So one can easily assume why football is a popular sport there, the epic rivalry between this clubs is as fierce as El Classico. So, youngsters have always been attracted to football, and Bengali people always have been passionate about this sport.
Not only Muhun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan but also many small clubs from Bengal(mainly Kolkata) have their own academy to originate youngster from the grassroot level.
Even our Ex-captain of our Indian Cricket Team, Dada or Saurav Ganguly had been a football player and wanted a career in that sport but fate had other options, but he proved that his love for football is intact by having a stake in Atletico De Kolkata team! But now gradually, all the other states have been equally involved in it, so gradually I would say Football will be a sport for the whole nation, not just Bengal.