The 129th edition of the Durand Cup which is considered to be world’s third oldest and Asia’s oldest football tournament, will be held in Kolkata after being shifted away from Delhi. The ‘City of Joy’ will host the three week long tournament, scheduled between 02 to 24 August, with matches being played at various venues, in and around Kolkata.
West Bengal sport minister, Aroop Biswas, told the Press at Fort William today, “the matches will be held at several places such as in Yuva Bharati stadium, Naihati and Kalyani. Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister will inaugurate the tournament.”
Sixteen participating teams from across the country, including four teams from the Armed Force Services, are set to bring out the competitive and true sportsman spirit to win the coveted trophies.
It was learnt that the Durand Cup, is returning after a short gap of three years to entertain the football lovers of the nation. The prestigious tournament was first held in 1888, at Dagshai (Himachal Pradesh) and is named after Mortimer Durand, who was the then foreign secretary in charge of India.
The tournament that began as an Army Cup, was a conscious way to maintain health and fitness initially among the British troops but later opened to civilians and currently is one of the leading sporting event.
The Royal Scouts Fusiliers won the inaugural edition of the Durand Cup way back in 1888. Mohammedan Sporting Club was the first Indian club to win the cup, in 1940, when the tournament shifted to Delhi.
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are the most successful teams in the history of the Durand Cup, winning it on 16 occasions each. The “Army Greens” are the current defending champions, winning the last tournament played in 2016. The winning team will be presented with three trophies – The President’s Cup (first presented by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India), the Durand Cup (the original challenge prize, which is a rolling trophy) and the Shimla Trophy (first presented by citizens of Shimla in 1904 and since 1965, a rolling trophy).
The 129th edition of the cup is being organized under the patronage of the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and the three service Chiefs from Army, Navy and Air Force, dynamic support of the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee, and able guidance of Lt Gen MM Naravane, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, Indian Army.
The department of Youth Services and Sports, Government of West Bengal, under stewardship of sports minister Biswas, AIFF (All India Football Federation) and IFA (West Bengal), are extending extensive support to make this tournament a success.