There is much romance surrounding the National Club of India and one of their more famous stories was the historic 2-1 defeat of the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911 to lift the IFA Shield. The 11 barefoot players affected not only Indian sporting history by becoming the first Indian team to beat an English club but also political history, breathing new life into the Independence struggle.
So on the 29th of July, celebrated as Mohun Bagan Day to commemorate this achievement, Goal.com's Arkaprabha Chakraborty caught up with Mohun Bagan's Honorary General Secretary, Anjan Kumar Mitra for a quick chat.
Talking about whether the club had to potential to beat an English side if they took one on in the present day, Mitra said, "The primary thing to remember is that the game needs a lot of heart and our team has plenty of that. This is the centenary of the underdog beating much fancied opposition and that spirit runs through the club."
So when quizzed whether there was such a match planned in the near future, he remained non-committal, "Maybe. Maybe. 2014 is the club's 125th anniversary and I don't want to reveal anything right now."
"But the club has planned periodic events for the whole year to celebrate such a momentous occasion. However nothing at all has been finalized at this stage," he added.
Asked as to whether he saw youth being more interested in the game than they were 20 years ago, Mohun Bagan's secretary was much more enthusiastic. "Well, Mohun Bagan has always been developing their own youth products and have academies in Durgapur, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong. Today, with the potential money they can earn in a short time, no profession, not engineering, not medicine, not accountancy can match up to it. This is a good side to the game that wasn't there around 20 years ago."
"Consequently, more and more parents are becoming open to the idea of their children becoming professional footballers. And obviously, with more youth admitted, there is more interest generated. We also have a school intake programme from some of the premier institutions in the city," he elucidated.
Finally, on being asked whether he felt that Kolkata clubs were falling behind their Goan counterparts, he was vehement in his insistence to the contrary. "I believe that in the top four of the I-League, the competition is neck-and-neck. There is no 'clear' favourite for the title any year. Both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have won the national titles several times in their history and even in the past decade."
"Currently, the league is so well-balanced that at the end of the day, it is suspensions and injuries which define which way a season goes. All the top four were all quite close each other last season and we expect it will stay that way" he signed off.
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