Posts in India
From Bollywood to the Boardroom

High-profile club ownership is nothing new to the football world. But what about when your owner happens to be a movie star with about 18 million social media followers, who started the club from scratch and is involved in its day-to-day affairs? Meet John Abraham, the Bollywood star who dreamed of playing for his country as a young boy, and who is now investing far more than just his money to build a football legacy in his home country.

Read More
'Football is just Football'

My first impressions of Indian football culture were all experienced through the city of Mumbai. Despite the growing interest and clear passion for the game there, so often it is overtaken or forgotten, whether thanks to cricket, or any number of other economic, geographic or social factors. When I enquired about football throughout the rest of India, three key states were mentioned: Kerala, Bengal and Goa. Friends described to me scenes of colour and chaos on game days, packed out stadiums and thriving grassroots cultures, and it seemed a necessity to go and witness some of this for myself.

Read More
Kolkata Derby

Most people would assume an Indian sporting fixture that regularly attracts more than 100,000 people could only be one thing: a game of cricket. But tell that to the people of Kolkata, who on Sunday gathered at the city's Salt Lake Stadium for the latest instalment of the 'Boro Derby', as East Bengal took on Mohun Bagan in what might well be the most well-attended, fiercely competitive and historically significant derby you've never heard of.

Read More
Giving Something Back

Although this trip was intended to be more about relaxation than football discovery, upon opening the boot of the car I was greeted with a bag brimming full of balls and plastic cones. Remembering my friend’s forewarning that his Dad had been ‘a bit of a player’ back in the day, and was still involved in the local football scene here in Goa, I was curious to find out more about his story.

Read More
Freestyle Football

He introduced himself as Mario, and after a few minutes of speaking, it transpired that he was a freelance footballer based here in Mumbai. I was intrigued to find out more, and Mario kindly invited me to join him and a friend the following day for practice at a nearby ground. Curious to discover more about the origins of Mario’s freestyle career, and to learn about where this form of the game fits into Indian football culture, the next day I was up and at it, en route to Vile Parle to find out more.

Read More
Forza India

After experiencing top flight Indian football (witnessing Mumbai City FC's Friday night ISL victory), I was curious to find about more about the other end of the spectrum - the grassroots. It’s clear that despite the recent growth and increased interest in the domestic game, to truly develop and scale the impact football has in India will be a lengthy, generational task.

Read More
The Maha Derby

After a few days of settling into Mumbai life, it wasn’t long before I was chomping at the bit to see some football. The Indian Super League (ISL) season began just a few weeks ago, and this seemed the perfect chance to get a taste of what the elite form of the game looks and feels like here.

Read More
Sleeping Giant

Keen to dig deeper into why India holds this status, and more importantly, what can be done to awaken the giant from its slumber, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Anjali Shah from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Read More
The Oscar Foundation

Tucked away down a typically chaotic Mumbai side street in Colaba, OSCAR’s headquarters were full to the brim, a whole host of meetings and conversations taking place as I arrived. As Ashok began to tell his story, and the story of the foundation, I could see very quickly this was about far more than just football. 

Read More
Not enough footballs

I instantly made the comparison with cricket, wondering how another sport (arguably more complicated and less accessible than football), had managed to transcend the layers of Indian society to become the powerhouse it is today. This was clearly a familiar question to Rohit and Mangesh, who simultaneously smiled and sighed before launching into their responses.

Read More
Is there a game on?

The Cooperage Ground is nestled in amongst parks and expensive property in the heart of ‘town’, and the view from its sizeable (but empty) bleachers was a fascinating one. Architecturally, Colaba itself was heavily influenced by the British, with a walk around the local ‘Oval Park’ reminding me more of Oxford or Cambridge than India. Games of schoolboy cricket were taking place as Victorian clock towers and school buildings lined the park’s perimeter. Games of schoolboy cricket, I might add, with far more spectators than joined me in the stands for the MDFA fixture.

Read More