On the club’s fifth anniversary let’s have a look into the success of Bengaluru Football Club (BFC).
ONCE UPON A TIME IN INDIA was the most-used phrase we all have used in our schooling days. Didn’t we? Today, in 2018, we can use the same phrase for Indian football. I mean not just for the national side, to the clubs of India. And one of the successors of this Indian football without any doubt is Bengaluru FC.
In 1950, India’s chance to participate in the FIFA World Cup ruined by AIFF citing travel costs. Though FIFA had agreed to bear the expenses, AIFF denied it. Since then, football in India was not seen as a major sport. There might be many reasons for it but it was not up to the mark to entertain India football fans. But in recent years, Indian football touching news highs day-by-day and we must thank Bengaluru FC.
For the 2013-14 I-League seasons, All India Football Federation (AIFF) was accepting the bid from clubs for the direct entry on certain conditions. And in January same year, it was officially announced that JSW Group had won the bid for a Bangalore based team through their sports branch JSW Sports. They were agreed to form a new stadium and group announced they would set up a youth academy in Bangalore. And finally, on July 20, 2013, the JSW Group officially launched the club ‘Bengaluru Football Club’.
For any new club in any sports, it’s always a tougher challenge to contest. And for the I-League, there were big-daddy like Mohan Bagan, East Bengal, Dempo, Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar. To take on these challenges was the first and foremost task for Bengaluru FC. But club straight away appointed Ashley Westwood – the former Blackburn Rovers’ assistant manager as the head coach. Signed two foreign players John Johnson and Curtis Osano. Club also signed India football captain Sunil Chhetri who was part of Sporting Clube de Portugal B previous season before he came on loan to Churchill Brothers towards the fag end of the I-League.
In its debut season, the club won the I-League championship. That’s the start they had planned since their inception. They won as many 14 games out of 24 they played losing just five of them and other five managed successful draws.
The prowess of the club in Indian football started right from the debut season. In the 2014-15 season, the club participated in the Federation Cup and claimed their first title by defeating Dempo in the final 2-1. Meaning, in the span of two years since inception Bengaluru FC claimed two different titles. So far the club has two I-League titles and two Federation Cup titles. Those premier titles are the full-proof of the club and its dominance over Indian football in simple un-matchable.
In India, people prefer cricket over other sports. No doubt. The Indian Premier League (IPL) – world’s biggest cricketing league tournament is nothing like a festival and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has shown what consistency means since IPL inception. There is nothing different than the story of Bengaluru FC in Indian football than CSK in IPL. The club right from the start insisted on their team. Captain Chhetri led from the season one along with his other members. And the perfect example of this was 2016 AFC Cup. Bengaluru FC became the first ever Indian club to feature into the final. Unfortunately, the club was defeated by Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in the hard-fought final 1-0.
ISL and Super Cup
The fourth season of Indian Super League (ISL) featured ten teams adding two new entrants Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC. Having the stupendous mark in Indian football, Bengaluru FC, started their ISL debut with a win over Mumbai City FC in their opening game at home. The club went on winning 13 games out of 18 they played, the record in the ISL claiming 40 points in the table. With this performance, they easily progressed to the final but lost the game to Chennaiyin FC 3-2. With the introduction of a new tournament in the Indian football, Super Cup which is the replacement of Federation Cup, the club won the title quite comfortably defeating Mohun Bagan and East Bengal 4-2 and 4-1 respectively in the semifinal and final, and became the first team in the history to score 4 goals against both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the same competition.
Since the inception, the club has seen enormous fan following. The West Block Blues are there for almost every game to cheer the club. It’s not just Bengaluru FC, the West Block Blues cheer for Indian national team as well.
BFC Soccer School and Academy
Bengaluru FC started Soccer school’s all across Bengaluru to help young boys and girls dream big and become a professional football player. Young players who perform well in these soccer school would be selected to full funded BFC youth Academy and Academy players have a chance of Representing Bengaluru FC in National and AFC events. Bengaluru FC soccer School provides training to U8, U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U16 in 10 centers in Bengaluru.
Bengaluru FC deployed experienced coaches in Soccer School, headed by youth Academy coach, John Kila. Kila managed Clubs from Ghana before moving to Bengaluru as “Head of youth development” in 2016. Bengaluru FC Academy is one of the most advanced academies in India, selected talents from all across Indian for full funded youth development program.
Bengaluru FC Senior team have won 5 trophies in its 5 years of existence, Whether they will be able to replicate their success in next 5 years or not is must watch for all Indian Fans. But Bengaluru did change Indian Football in last 5 years with their professional approach towards the game and youth development, now many other clubs are also coming up with same plans for their teams.