The Journey So Far


The Indian Football Association is deeply rooted in the history of the game in the sub-continent. From one watershed day in the mid-nineteenth century when Nagendra Prasad Adhikari became the first Indian to kick a football to an extreme yearning for the game in the current millennium, IFA has firmly stayed the course to shape footballing dreams across generations. Nagendra Prasad’s fascination with the game triggered the birth of a series of clubs, Calcutta FC being the first one to be established, in 1872. With football gaining momentum, clubs like Dalhousie, Traders and Naval Volunteers emerged. In the intense rush for football, Mohun Bagan and Aryan were founded in Calcutta in the 1890s. As football began unfolding its many wonders to Indians, Calcutta became the hub of the game in the country during the British rule and has continued to retain that exclusivity to date. Tournaments like Gladstone Cup, Trades Cup and the Cooch Behar Cup became regular features in the football calendar around that time. But the rules of the game did not appear to be uniform for all these competitions as they were played in step with diverse interpretations of the laws by football exponents of that era. In order to bring uniformity to rules and regulations across India, Nagendra Prasad, and A. R. Brown and B.C. Lindsay of the Dalhousie Club, along with Watson of Calcutta F.C. decided that an apex body is needed to govern Indian football, which resulted in the formation of IFA, in 1983. IFA’s blueprint was about organizing a tournament on the lines of the British Football Association, the governing body of world football at that time. As the game evolved in India with tremendous following, the need to financially support the IFA’s spearheading efforts became imperative. There was no dearth of patrons as the Maharajas of Patiala and Cooch Behar, when approached, provided generous support to the game. Things began to take shape for the first time in the right earnest. Soon, a shield was ordered from Messrs Elkington & Company through their Calcutta agent Walter Lock & Company. The rest is history. The shield became a mantle of footballing glory in India – the IFA shield became the prime tournament of football in the country, with other tourneys like the Trades Cup and the Calcutta Football League (1898) incorporated in its fold.
A. R, Brown became the first secretary of the newly formed association. Later, B. C. Lindsay held the post in 1896. Interestingly, Norman Prichard, the first Indian to win an Olympic Medal, was the Secretary of the IFA in 1900.The most remarkable person to head the I.F.A. was the Maharaja of Santosh,,Hon’ble M. N. Roy Chowdhury. He was much ahead of his time. But it was during his tenure the All India Football Federation was formed and control of football all over the country passed onto the central body.