The journey so far has not been easy and it will be never be. Life is always expected to be full of challenges, and so is the case with the journey of Kolkata Football Club. We are now one year old, looking forward to going professional by the end of 2016-17 season and then ultimately targeting India and Asian qualifications in the upcoming years. The dream slowly started taking place on April 16, 2015 and overall 20 boys attended the practice, most of whom are not part of the team today. The team was run under the banner of Atletico de Kolkata Fans’ Fraternity for a month before differences started arising between me and the owner of the fans’ club, Abir Saha.
Many would have kept quiet and continued with the team, but I decided to stand against the nuisance going around and break away from the fans’ club, with some core members of the team, some of whom are the founders of Kolkata Football Club. The name and logo was decided in two hours’ time and we began with our first practice session under the banner of Kolkata FC on May 14, 2015. Two moles tagged alongside the team and passed on team information to the fans’ club and one of them was removed very soon.
The team geared up to play some friendlies against other teams of the city and I had managed to save around four thousand bucks over the last few years. With the first friendly looming in the next ten days, and the team not having any jersey, I contacted Divakar, a friend of mine, who sponsored the rest of the jersey costs. The jersey colours were matched with the logo and an orange jersey with black stripes, black shorts and black socks were sported by the team. We played our first match against a team comprising players of Rammohan Mission and Jadavpur University and won it 1-0. But were defeated 1-6 against a well-co-ordinated FIIOB Football Team.
We started learning from our mistakes but we didn’t have any coaches back then. Most of the players had the urge to learn and Youtube was our only resort to train. We then played against Chelsea India Supporters Club, earning our first win in an official friendly match, when Joy Mondal scored deep into the extra time to win us the game 1-0. We played a few practice matches against other teams of the city, winning all of them, before losing 1-2 to FootLoggers United FC, even after leading the game at one stage. The next match we defeated Los Merengues Kolkata 3-1, our first come from behind victory, after we conceded in the 2nd minute.
We participated in our first tournament a week later, where we scripted a comeback from 2 goals down in the Round of 32 and reached the semi-finals. The team endured some tough time after that as we lost our then captain Soumik Sarkar, who left due to some misunderstanding and we found our second mole in the team, Mr. Subhadeep Sarkar. A few players left and a few newbies came in, and our team never regretted because these happened to be a blessing in disguise as we found better players for the team. The season was capped off with a 2-2 draw against FootLoggers United.
By the time the New Year began, we had a plan to go for a complete overhaul of the squad. The core of the team was retained, while new players were brought in. The investment money started flowing into the club and Kolkata FC now started becoming serious contenders to challenge the heavyweights of Kolkata. With better facilities than most of the other clubs, we started roping in their players, in the form of Subit Bose and Pritam Roy from Gore United FC; Santanu Bera, who left his long-term team, All Stars FC; and Sumit Agarwal, who left the FIIOB Junos Project to gain some senior team action. With some sources, we roped in Suvojit Das of CIEM College and Abhijit Pan from Seacom College. Suvojit brought Sayam with him who in turn helped the club bring in players like Shubhadip Nandi, who is a consistent Goal Scorer and Justin Leander Quigley, who won the Golden Boot in Parsee 5-a-side Invitational Tournament 2016. Our ex-captain, Rivu Das helped bringing in Shubhajit Sen, who has the experience of playing in District and State Level.
We won our friendly matches, defeating Jadavpur University 3-0 and 11-3, Spoilt Brats FC 6-1 and 3-1, and finished as the quarterfinalists in the Heritage Boots on the Ball, where we lost out to Vivekananda College on toss. Our worst tournament experience came in the Kolkata leg of the India Football Tour, when we were forced to play a weakened side due to our main players suffering multiple injuries. In that tournament, I met Iffat di, and she helped us a lot by connecting me with Swapan Sir and the team finally got a good and able coach. We were the first amateur team in the city to professionally appoint a coach and the team started reaching new heights.
In the meantime, I got in touch with the sub-junior coach of West Bengal, Yan Law, who expressed his interest in working with the club. The talks were finalised by April 30, 2015 with the announcement being delayed for specific reasons. With the period of sponsorship coming to an end, Sportwalk decided to renew the same with a major increase in the allocated funds while the club got major investment plans approved for the academy from India’s youngest entrepreneur, Kunwar Prithvi Singh Chauhan.
On May 27, 2016, Kolkata FC formed a partnership with Aciesta Sports & Events for branding, promotions, exposures, grassroots programmes and mainly the academy project. With the team climbing the ladder strong and fast, I have full confidence that we will go professional by the end of 2016-17 season and start playing in the Calcutta Football League Division System. We are very much grateful to the seniors of FootLoggers United FC, who love as our own brothers, but I have no hesitation in criticising some of the oldest amateur teams of the city (we have also defeated a few), because they have done nothing for the game in the city and are always busy boasting their achievements. I guess they don’t have dreams, they only have obligations; obligations to win trophies; even if it is done by fielding 2 or 3 teams in a tournament. I am very much happy that our players do not have any such demands of fielding multiple teams in a tournament and they have always kept the collective goals of the team ahead of their personal goals.
As and when, we realise the dream of playing is professionals, the next target will be to become the best in Kolkata. There are a lot of hurdles we will face, but together we dreamt of making it big, and alongside the dream, we will continue to work hard and make it a reality. The academy is coming up soon and on a personal level, it’s a promise that it will be something, which leave alone Kolkata, the entire India has never seen before and the team working on this is sincere and dedicated, so we are sure that we can work hard and put India in the Global Footballing Map.