There are many things to do and enjoy in Kolkata, India. Football lovers are in luck since the support is well loved and widely received. Still largely known by its old name Calcutta, Kolkata is a powerhouse in Indian football. Football in Calcutta has a huge following since Indians go gaga over the sport.
Since the British were in control of the country, Indians have learned to play and love football. History remembers the time when the British organized local football matches between local townspeople and Indian soldiers in Calcutta. West Bengal has a long tradition of the sport, which is why some of the best football players and teams in the country come from this state.
Calcutta used to be the capital of British India. Today, it remains the most important city in West Bengal, including Bangladesh. The city has more than 300 years of history, which is why it is the home of many firsts for India. For instance, the first football league in Asia and one of the oldest in the whole world is the Calcutta Football League (CFL). What began in 1898 is now considered the Olympics of Football where about 8,500 IFA registered players participate.
Today, CFL has seven league divisions with 157 participating clubs or units. All these teams are based in Kolkata, which only shows how much the city loves the sport and how many great football players there are in West Bengal. Two of these clubs are over two centuries old. Some of the most popular football clubs include the Calcutta Police Club, East Bengal Club, Indian Football Association, Rajasthan Club, Wari Athletic Club, and Calcutta Cricket and Football Club. The CFL is an important and closely followed sporting event in India.
Meanwhile, two other popular sports in the city are cricket and golf. Cricket is huge in all of India. To many Kolkata locals, cricket is more than just a sport. To them it symbolizes Indian culture and society, and therefore a game of cricket is seen as an important social event. The enthusiasm over an India vs. Pakistan cricket match is always over the roof. Cricket fans could get overzealous, as Brazilian fans would over a game of football. They climb stadium walls just to get a closer glimpse of their favorite cricket player. Fans would wear masks or put on face paints as would Americans when watching the Super Bowl.
Golf is also important in Calcutta not because there are as many people who love or play it, but because of its historic significance. Next only to Britain, Calcutta is the second city in the world that embraced this sport. The Calcutta Royal Golf Club is the oldest functioning golf club in the world outside British Isles.
When not engaged in any of these leading sports, tourists spend their time sightseeing and checking out the city’s many attractions. Art lovers will have a heyday at Victoria Memorial, the Indian Museum and Marble Palace. Those who love shopping are also in luck since Kolkata is home to lively local markets such as the New Market and the street stalls along historic Chowringhee Road. Other important landmarks are Eden Garden, Howrah Bridge, the Birla Planetarium and Kali Temple. Although football in Calcutta is huge, the city is definitely much more than the sport.