The Indian Defence who have always made more than a billion people of the Motherland feel safe by guarding it’s International borders with their selfless sacrifice and dedication, has also been very prominent with its contribution towards sports helping the country provide some of the best sports persons on the global stage.
Now, as earlier ,Indian Army is going to organize the Asia’s oldest and the world’s third oldest tournament Durand Cup which is the perfect platform for the top tier clubs to test their bench strength and at the same time it will give them an opportunity to have a look at the local talents.
The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the 131st Durand Cup football tournament, today announced Guwahati and Imphal as additional host cities for this prestigious football tournament, scheduled to kick-off on August 16, 2022, at Kolkata’s very own Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), with the final slated at the same hallowed venue on September 18, 2022. It will be for the first time that Asia’s oldest football tournament will be played in the states of Assam and Manipur as well.
The tournament will also be bigger this year, going up from 16 to 20 teams.
The Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium in Guwahati and Imphal’s Khuman Lampak stadium will be the newest tournament venues alongside the Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata and the Naihati Stadium in North 24-Paraganas district of West Bengal.
The “Mecca of Indian Football” the VYBK will play host 10 games including the opening blockbuster-the Kolkata derby between arch rivals ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal,followed by seven knockout games culminating in the Grand Finale.
Guwahati and Imphal will host one of the four group matches and a total of 10 games each.
Sharing his thoughts on the occasion Lt. Gen. Kamal Kumar Repswal, SM, VSM, The Chief of Staff, Eastern Command and Chairman , Durand Organising Committee, said, “The Durand Cup Football Tournament is a very proud tradition of the Indian Armed forces and the Indian Army takes immense pride in organizing this more than a century old masterpiece. We had expressed last year that we wanted to expand the reach of the Durand Cup and we are extremely happy that we have been able to achieve the same this year. It would not have been possible without the enthusiastic and proactive support of these three State Govts”.
“Besides the new host cities and venues, The 131st Durand Cup Edition will see many other firsts including participation of all ISL teams, a team from the Royal State of Rajasthan and also for the very first time a four-city Trophy Tour to rev up support for the tournament and engage more fans,” he concluded.
Also sharing his views Sunando Dhar, Acting General Secretary, AIFF, said, “It is heart-warming to see Durand get back its place of pride in Indian Football with a full-fledged 20-team Cup tournament being played across three States of India. The AIFF has always propagated a longer Footballing calendar in the best interests of the game, the footballers and even to meet the AFC Champions League criteria and a curtain raising competitive Cup tournament like Durand.I congratulate the organisers on their brilliant effort and look forward to some eye-catching football.”
This Durand Cup edition will also see the return of spectators for the entire length of the tournament for the first time in the post pandemic season. Defending Champions FC Goa had beaten Mohammedan Sporting in the final of the 130th edition to win the Cup last year in-front of a packed VYBK after the spectators were allowed entry in the final three knockout games.
(Inputs & Pics – Indian Army )
( Pratyusha Mukherjee, a Broadcast Journalist of BBC News based in Kolkata. In her illustrated career she has covered many major events and achieved International and National media awards for Journalism.)