Guwahati City FC co-founders (from left) Darick Ranjan Deka, Siddhartha Sankar Deka, Kaustab Chakraborty
Guwahati City FC co-founders (from left) Darick Ranjan Deka, Siddhartha Sankar Deka, Kaustab Chakraborty

Guwahati City FC: Nurturing Football Talents From The Grassroots

We started with a long-term vision: invest in the grassroots and youth and from the beginning till now we have prioritised these two areas.

February 26, 2021

Since its inception, the Guwahati City FC (GCFC) has been nurturing and nourishing football talents. especially from and at the grassroots.

Apart from providing young players with a platform to showcase their football talents, the club has also pioneered several initiatives that have paved a new era in the world of football in the northeast.

From Greater Guwahati Baby League to reaching out to young footballers in need or starting flood-relief campaigns, Guwahati City FC has also been engaged with a lot of other things.

During a brief chit-chat Kaustab Chakraborty- one of the co-founders of the club, gives a detailed insight into the club and the work they have been doing.

There is a story behind everything, what's yours?

We, as individuals who passionately love the game, always wanted the best for Assam football. We have been following the local football for a long time and saw the potentials. But, while the neighbouring states of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur have been producing countless numbers of amazing talents and a good number of clubs/academies to represent the state at the national stage, Assam has been lagging behind.

In comparison to the rich football heritage, what the present and the future of Assam football indicating was not positive at all. We were never really able to relate with NorthEast United FC.

Apart from the Indian Super League (ISL), NEUFC's presence in the state is nil. So we decided to do something in the real sense instead of cursing our fate. That is how Guwahati City FC (GCFC) was born.

What is the hardest part, the start or the journey after that

To manage and maintain the financial part after starting the journey, like any start-up, is tough. But what we had was a long-term vision along with patience and some innovative brains to convert our weaknesses into our strength.

We got heart-warming support from Shillong Lajong FC and its owner Larsing Ming Sawyan. They came on board to help us start our first-ever project- the Residential Summer Soccer Camp in 2017. And that is how it started rolling.

The mission at the outset

We started with a long-term vision: invest in the grassroots and youth and from the beginning till now we have prioritised these two areas.

We of course have ambitions, but we are taking steps cautiously- given the current uncertain situation at the senior level of the Indian football league structure.

The story behind the name

We always wanted to carry the name of our home city with our club, just like any city-based club in the world. We added 'City' with the name because of some technical issues.

How did the team come together?

We- Siddhartha Sankar Deka, senior journalist; Darick Ranjan Deka, Marketing Expert and Kaustab Chakraborty, Digital media expert- never knew each other personally before Guwahati City FC was born.

We met through common friends who were also the co-founders of the club and realised that we share the same vision to go long term for football.

So, we decided to start the club.

Meanwhile, the other four co-founders decided to part away for personal reasons. But GCFC will always remain the symbol of unknown people becoming family for football.

The work you do

We manage and run the club keeping in view of our strength and weakness. Actually, on-field we do everything just like any other staff member irrespective of the kind of the work.

About Greater Guwahati Baby League

Greater Guwahati Baby League (GGBL) is the first-ever AIFF approved Golden Baby League of Assam.

The idea was to bring the kids as young as 4-year-old to the field along with their parents and the community as a whole to build a grassroots football ecosystem.

In the last two seasons, GGBL brought more than 2000 kids (both boys and girls) together to play football and provided them with an average of 20-22 matches in 4-6 months.

GGBL was amongst the top 10 golden baby leagues recognized by AIFF last year.

How would you rate the overall football scenario in the state?

It is still lagging behind our neighbours like Mizoram in terms of structure. We desperately need a state league, a women's state league, state youth leagues, a state futsal league along with baby leagues across the state.

Execution of many projects is stalled due to the ongoing COVID situation. Hopefully, we will see a wave of change by the end of 2021.

Support of your families

We all come from middle-class families and they are still curious about the prospect of football or sports management as a career. But, they believe in us, that is the most important thing. Their trust drives us to prove ourselves.

Your inspirations

Of course, the people who did not believe in us or believe that we will be successful. And the clubs which proved their mettle and climbed to the top of football on merit, not on financial muscles.

We have ambitions to rub shoulders with Bengaluru FC, but we want to follow Aizawl FC's footsteps. We adore Liverpool or Barcelona but want to be like Leeds United.

Has there ever been any conflict of ideas amongst you

Yes and this actually helps us in achieving tougher goals.

How do you handle adversity and doubt?

Through debate and thorough discussion.

Any message for the prospective sports entrepreneurs from the region

Sports, especially Football has immense entrepreneurship potentials in the northeast. What one needs are planning and patience.

It may be mentioned here that Guwahati City FC won U8 and U10 League in both GGBL and APRO Baby League 2019-20 Season.

The club also won U14 and U17 Winter Championship 2021 in Azara,

Eleven U21 players of the club represented Kamrup (M) at the Senior Inter-District level.

One player from the club represented Assam at the U17 national tournament.

One player has also represented the state at the U17 Khelo India 2020.

Two U10 players of the club have also received 10 years contract from Minerva Academy, Punjab

Guwahati City FC has also generated flood-relief to the tune of Rs 90,000.

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