Indian Football

Indian Football: A Look at the Major Domestic Tournaments in the Country

Arjun Singh Devgan
The 130th edition of the Durand Cup is scheduled to take place in September
The 130th edition of the Durand Cup is scheduled to take place in September /
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Cricket might be the most popular sport in India, but there is no doubt that football is gaining popularity in recent times and country's preoccupation with cricket overshadows the fact that it hosts some of the world’s oldest football tournaments in the world.

India has a historic past when it comes to football, and here, we take a look at a list of all the domestic football tournaments in the country.

1. Durand Cup

The third oldest competition in the world, the Durand Cup is an annual nationwide football tournament organized by Indian Armed Forces. Started in 1888 by Mortimer Durand, the Durand Cup is the oldest competition in Asia and initially was played in Shimla, post which it was shifted to New Delhi in 1940. SC East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are the most successful clubs to play in the competition, winning 16 titles each.

The 130th edition of the Durand Cup will be held in Kolkata this year, with the tournament scheduled to take place in the beginning of September and will end by first week of October.

2. IFA Shield

Players and officials of Myanmar's Finan
Players and officials of Myanmar's Finan / DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/Getty Images

The IFA Shield is another historic tournament in the Indian football calendar which was started in 1893 during the rule of the British in the country. It was also in this competition that Indian footballers showed that they were equally as good as their English counterparts: in 1911, Mohun Bagan created history by defeating East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1. While Mohun Bagan won the IFA Shield 22 times, East Bengal was the most successful team (with 29 title wins).

The competition has not been limited to Indian clubs as over the years clubs from Iran, Brazil, Russia, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and even North Korea have all competed in the IFA Shield.

In 2005, Bayern Munich sent their reserve squad to compete in the tournament.

3. Subroto Cup

FBL-IND-PELE
FBL-IND-PELE / SAJJAD HUSSAIN/Getty Images

Named after Indian Air Force Air Marshal, Subroto Mukerjee - the Subroto Cup is one of India's most popular inter-school competitions, with the first edition being held in 1960.

The tournament sees schools from all over the world visit India to participate in it, with West Bengal's, Madhyamgram High School winning the tournament the most times in it's history (17).

4. Santosh Trophy

FBL-IND-SANTOSH TROPHY
FBL-IND-SANTOSH TROPHY / DIPTENDU DUTTA/Getty Images

An annual competition that sees state and government teams face each other, the Santosh Trophy was the top domestic championship in India prior to the establishment of the National Football League in 1996.

West Bengal are the most successful team in the competition, having won it 31 times so far.

5. Indian Super League

India v Bahrain - AFC Asian Cup Group A
India v Bahrain - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The biggest football tournament in India, the Indian Super League (ISL) began in 2014 and has helped the raise the profile of football in the country. The league has 11 franchises in 10 cities, and is backed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

6. Super Cup

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FBL-IND-AFC / MONEY SHARMA/Getty Images

A knockout competition, the Super Cup features teams from the Indian Super League and I-League, with the 2021 edition suspended due to the Indian national team's fixtures corresponding at the same time it was scheduled to be held.

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