Why Nagendra Prasad was conferred the title of “Father of Indian Football”?

The year was 1877, when Kolkata was considered as the capital of British India when a teenage boy named Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari  witnessed the game near Calcutta FC ground where Europeans were chasing a ball and the young lad was fascinated by the magical aura that game imprinted on his mind.

While he was watching a football game, a ball came to him and he happily kicked ball back to the ground in the process he became the first Indian ever to kick football.

He was so much glued with the game and started collecting subscriptions from classmate at Hare school and subsequently purchased a football from sports store in Kolkata “Manton & Company”.

Sarbadhikari was one of the early pioneers who took immense steps among popularizing football clubs among the Indian population of Bengal.

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Within in a limited time span, He was involved in organizing different football clubs like Wellington and Sovabazar in 1887.

He was also involved in popular incident when he stood against Wellington Club for not letting Moni Das, a player from lower caste to play for the club.

He left Wellington Club but supported many budding footballers to pursue their passion and went to form Sovabazar Club with assistance from Royal Family of Soyabazar.

Taking help from Bama Charan Kundu they together formed Howrah Sporting Club.

Prasad took his team Sovabazar in the Trades Cup in 1889 where he ensured the participation of First Indian football club in the prestigious event.

Sovabazar Club was the first Indian club to defeat British in a football game in 1892 where the former defeated East Surrey Regiment by 2-1 in 1892.

Prasad motivated several youth to pick up the game of football as profession and eventually with time most clubs were formed in order to track the progress of different Indian football clubs he took up the role of British representatives.

All the efforts led by Prasad led to the formation of Indian Football Association(IFA) in 1892 and first marquee event was conducted under the name of “IFA Shield” in 1893 which was hosted annually.

For all his contribution of making football accessible to all parts of India and ensuring the popularity of the game among young players he was conferred with the title of “Father of Indian Football”.

A Bengali movie under the name “Golondaaj” released in 2021 where actor Dev played titular role of Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari.

Also Read: How we can upscale the quality of Indian football ecosystem ?