Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari: A kick, a rugby ball… the story of ‘Messi’ of Indian football

new Delhi: Most of the countries of the world, including India, were immersed in the fever of the Football World Cup final on Sunday night. Some were supporting Argentina and some were supporting France. In the end this great game won. You can judge the popularity of football in India by looking at the World Cup final match. This game is very popular in the states of West Bengal, Kerala and Northeast. But do you know who is the father of Indian football? Or rather the father of Indian football. The popularity of football in the country today is due to that Indian ‘Messi’ only. Actually, the beginning of football in India was started by the kick of an 8 year old kid. The name of that child was Nagendra Prasad Nagendra (Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari).

Crores of Indians were shouting slogans in support of football today. The credit goes to Nagendra for starting that football game in the country. During the British rule, Nagendra had seen such a dream, which he devoted his life to fulfill. Nagendra is also known as the father of Indian football for promoting and popularizing the football culture in the country. Nagendra had been an excellent football administrator since his youth. Nagendra’s story is of a young man who persevered, dreamed and fulfilled it. That’s why he is not called ‘Messi’ of India. Nagendra Kahani is one in a million story of a man you would be proud to know.

This is how football started in India
The game of football came to India in the early 19th century during the British rule. During this time many football matches were played in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Madras (now Chennai) and Bombay (now Mumbai) of the country. But all these matches were only for and between the European community, especially the personnel of the British Army and Navy. That is, Indians could not play football.

That year of 1877, one kick and everything changed

But it is said that every night has its dawn. So that year of 1877 became a year of dawn for the night of the Indians. In the same year, the British Queen Victoria allowed the India and England cricket team to play the first Test against Australia in Melbourne. It was from here that the seeds of beginning with Indian football were sown. Nagendra of the ‘Bhadralok’ family of Bengal was on his way to bathe in the Ganges with his mother Hemlata Devi. However, due to some delay in leaving the house, the mother-son duo cut short the program of taking a dip in the Ganges and then started back. On the way, Nagendra saw some British soldiers playing football at the Calcutta FC ground. On Nagendra’s insistence, his horse carriage was stopped. Child Nagendra was watching this game very curiously. Just then a football came towards Nagendra, a British soldier said to Nagendra, ‘Kid, kick the football’. Nagendra did the same. With this a history was made. Famous football expert Noby Kapadia has written in his book ‘Barefoot to Boots’ that this was the first incident of an Indian kicking a football. It is debatable whether Nagendra kicked the football for the first time or not. But the reality was that the foundation of football had already been laid in the country.

dream of buying football with piggy bank money

Nagendra, who used to kick football, then drowned in the dream of this game. After this, Nagendra and his friends made a plan to buy football with the money of Gullak. After collecting the money, all the children went to Manton & Co., a famous shop of that time, to buy footballs. But the children, because of their young age or some other reasons, bought rugby balls instead of footballs. The proud kids arrived at their school with their rugby balls and started playing. He neither knew the rules and methods of football but still he was playing with a rugby ball in the field. But a crowd of hundreds gathered to watch this game of children and people also started having fun.

There was also a group of European teachers from some nearby schools and colleges in this audience. Meanwhile, Professor GA Stock of Presidency College saw children playing from the balcony of his college. The amazed professor was extremely pleased with the spirit of these children. After this he came and asked the children, what game are they playing? The children were a little surprised but could not explain anything completely. So Stock offered to teach Nagendra the rules of football and also gifted the kids a real football. JH Gilliland, another professor at Presidency College, also joined Stock.

This is how the patriarch of Indian football became an all-powerful

Nagendra turned out to be an excellent player. Soon he learned the finer points of football and became a fine player. Soon Nagendra and his friends formed a boys club. It was the first organized football club in India. After this incident, famous colleges like Presidency College, Calcutta Medical College and St. Xavier’s College also formed their own football teams. After this, Nagendra along with his classmate Nagendra Malik, who was a member of the royal family of Chorbagan area of ​​Calcutta, formed the Friends Club. This marked a milestone in the history of the football club in Calcutta and in the country. After passing out from school, Nagendra took admission in Presidency College. With each passing year, Nagendra went on to become one of the best names in the Sporting Club of Calcutta. After leaving the college in 1884, Nagendra founded the Wellington Club. After this he thought of making social change in Indian football. Even during this time football remained a game of the upper castes. After this, Nagendra changed the rules and gave entry to the potter’s son Moni Das in the club. However, during this he faced opposition from strong members of the club. Hurt by such discriminatory policies, Nagendra dissolved the Wellington Club. In 1897, he founded the Sovabazar Club. In this club, provision was made to give membership to players from all sections of the society. The change was strongly welcomed in this club. The club was joined by players from Nagendra’s former club and became a strong team. After this the club became the first Indian club to join the Trades Cup in 1889. In 1892 the Sovabazar Club beat the East Surrey Regiment 2–1 in the final. With this Sovbazar Club became the first club to defeat a British team in a major tournament. This victory paved the way for the 1911 Mohun Bagan club to win the IFA Shield.
IFA was founded in 1892
Nagendra played a key role in the establishment of the Indian Football Association (IFA) in 1892. Later in 1937 the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was formed. Long before he passed away in 1940, Nagendra earned the title of being the father of Indian football.

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