India is a multi-dimensional country. No matter what we talk about: sports, cultures, beautiful heritage sites, food, religions, traditions and the list goes on.
Talking about sports, those who say India is all about cricket fans, should be told that India has a lot of Football fanatics too. Football is one of the most popular sports, in India. Football is making a huge impact on the youth; with many young people both played and eagerly watching the sport.
Traditionally, football has enjoyed popularity in the all regions of India. The enthusiasm of the supporters and the number of supporters itself have increased. International football events are widely followed in India. Now more and more youngsters are getting involved with it. It is truly an upcoming sport.
India has come up with popular events such as various leagues, domestic cups, and recently the Indian Super League. Since these leagues are so successful, a greater number of children can now aspire to have a successful career in the football field.
Another one of the current top domestic league in India is the I-League or Indian League.
What is I–League (Indian League)?
The 2014-15 I-League, officially known as the Hero I League, due to its sponsorship with Hero Motocorp Ltd, it is the 8th season of I-League. The competition, formed as the ONGC I-League in 2007, in an effort to professionalize the game of football in India replaced the National Football League as the primary competition in the country.
The League is contested by 11 clubs from all over the country. It operates on a system of promotion and deportation with the I-League 2nd Division as well as a system of direct entry.
The league’s first official broadcaster was Zee Sports but now it is broadcasted on TEN Action.
Earlier, there were 8 clubs and in the mid-seasons there were also 2 clubs from the National Football League, resulting in total of 10 clubs.
Team owners include many business tycoons. Currently (2014-15 season) there are 11 clubs namely:
1.Bengaluru FC, owned by billion dollar Jindal Group.
2.Dempo Sports Club, owned by Dempo Mining Corporation Ltd.
3.Kalyani Bharat FC, owned by Kalyani Group
4.Kingfisher East Bengal FC, owned by United Breweries Group
5.McDowell Mohun Bagan AC, by Diageo Public Ltd.
6.Mumbai FC, owned by Esssel Group.
7.Pune FC, owned by Ashok Piramal Group.
8.Royal Wahingdoh, owned by Royal Wahingdoh Sports Club Pvt. Ltd.
9.Salgaocar FC, owned by Shivanand Salgaocar.
10.Shilong Lajong FC, owned by Shilong Lajong Pvt Ltd.
11.Sporting Clube de Goa, owned by City of Goa.
Since the commencement of the league, a total of four clubs have been crowned champions of the I-League. The teams who have won the title are:
- Dempo in 2007-08, 2009-10, 2011-12
- Churchill Brothers in 2008-09 and 2012-3 (not playing in 2014-15)
- Salgaocar FC in 2010-11
- Bengaluru FC in 2013-14
The players comprise of domestic as well as international players.
Top Indian players :
- Sunil Chhetri playing for Bengaluru FC
- Mehtab Hossain for East Bengal Club
- Mohammed Rafique for East Bengal Club
- Syed Nabi for Kalyani Bharat FC
- Lenny Rodrigues for Dempo SC
- Nirmal Chhetri for Dempo SC
Top international players:
- Ranti Martins playing for East Bengal Club
- Josimar for Mumbai FC
- Katsumi Yusa for Mohun Bagan
- Ryuji Sueoka for Pune
Since the league began in 2007, the rules of the league have changed almost yearly.
The league began on 17th January, with two big matches (Salgaocar FC vs Pune and Bengaluru FC vs Dempo). The season will run from 17th January to 19th May.
There will be a total of 90 matches in the season, with teams playing 18 matches each. Each club will play each other twice during the season, once at home and the other away from home. At the end of the season, the team with the most points wins the league.
Top scorers (2014-15)
- Thongkhosiem Haokip (Pune), with 4 goals
- Ranti Martins (East Bengal) and Darko Nikac (Pune), with 3 goals each
Currently, Pune FC is sitting at the top of the I-League table with just a little more than two weeks over. Bengaluru FC has won three consecutive matches to move up to the top half of the Hero I-League table. Royal Wahingdoh (I-league debutants) has notched up three away victories from their first three games and are now placed second in the points table, behind Pune FC only on goal difference. So far, it has been a promising start for the club in the I-League. Tough time has arrived for Kalyani Bharat FC as they are last in the points table.
Image source: Google
So if you have missed the previous matches then no need to worry because the fun has just begun. And if you’ve decided to follow this league then this is going to be a 5-months of entertainment.
Ask your cable operator for a sports pack, if you don’t have it already. Tighten up your schedule. Don’t miss a single moment. Reaching towards the mega tournament, there is now renowned hope that football may just be given a chance. If this is just the beginning, the future of Indian football does indeed look promising.
By Nikhil Gautam