Being on the wrong end of the I-League table, this season has been terrible for Mumbai FC. With relegation confirmed, we try to comprehend what a loss Mumbai FC would be for Mumbai Football.
This season started with a lot of optimism for Mumbai FC, with two victories (including an away victory against Churchill Brothers, its first away win in nearly two years). But since that win, they have failed to win in 15 games. With the fewest goals scored at 9 and second most goals conceded at 24, these are just a few numbers that define this season for the club. And with relegation confirmed, this is a major loss for Mumbai Football.
Going back to Mahindra United, shutdown of a club like Mahindra United was terrible to say the least for Mumbai Football. A loss that was felt by 300 players directly involved with the club to over 10,000 player playing in Mumbai Football Divisions, it was a lost opportunity and the onus on covering up for that loss lied on clubs like Air India, ONGC and then a very newly formed Mumbai FC. Later on, due to non fulfillment of AFC Club Licensing Criteria, Air India and ONGC, the mantle of taking Mumbai Football forward with a direction fell upon Mumbai FC.
From giving opportunities to players like Jaysh Rane and Ashutosh Mehta (both currently at Aizawl) to Anas Edathodika and Sehnaj Singh (Mohun Bagan) to Rahul Bheke (East Bengal) and a lot of others. These players started their careers from Mumbai FC and a lot of them ended up becoming Champions and legends in their own right.
Mumbai FC was never a club of the Champions, and it was project that was never suppose to be. What it was suppose to be was always a Club of Opportunities for the players of Mumbai. And it did not limit itself to the players, it also started from various organizations, which have grown with the club. For every Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal there needs to be a Shillong Lajong, Aizawl FC and Mumbai FC. Even for the ISL Clubs, the onus of finding and nurturing talent lies upon clubs like Mumbai FC.
This club has never failed to support events that gave opportunities to young and talented players as well. Right from Colaba Sports League to Vile Parle Premier League and a lot of local football tournaments, the club was always there to support Mumbai Football, when it needed that support the most.
This season was suppose to be a transformational season for Mumbai FC, where Yellow Brigade was growing in numbers and Mumbai Football Academy was started at Andheri Sports Complex is one of the club’s most ambitious projects. But this season went on to become something else, wherein after so many years of being saved from relegation, this season, in the club’s tenth year, turned out to be the one, where they would be relegated.
With all due respect to Mumbai City FC, who have done a lot of work at grassroots, Mumbai FC has been involved in local football since the last 10 years, and loss of a club like Mumbai FC will be horrible, to say the least. Mumbai FC’s relegation will be a terrible loss to all the players playing in the MDFA Leagues and local tournaments.
With relegation confirmed, all hopes are still not lost. The club could still resurrect and comeback from the 2nd Division a season later, but that is a risk that is huge. The next season would be the first season since the start of NFL, that there would be no top tier football team from the Nation’s Financial Capital. Whatever maybe the future of this club, the club surely has left a huge impact on the Mumbai Football scene and it’s service to Football can never be disregarded or discredited and its return to the top division is not only necessary, but also needed.
Disclaimer: I have been known as a Mumbai FC fan and a Yellow Brigadier from a long time, and it will be really tough for me to stay neutral. I have tried my best though.
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