State football leagues in India

State football leagues in India

Football came to India in the late nineteenth century. According to various sportswriters, this game was introduced to India by British soldiers. However, some sports historians have a different take on football's history in India. They say that the soldiers brought rugby to India, and not football.

Notwithstanding this controversy, many people agree that the first football clubs came up in army cantonments. Old-timers still reminisce about Dalhousie Club, Traders Club, Naval Volunteers Club, and others. However, all these clubs comprised white players from Britain.

Mohun Bagan, Sovabazaar Club, and Aryan Club — all Indian football clubs — were established in the 1890s in Kolkata. It was around this time that the IFA Shield and the Durand Club were started in India.

Over the years, many state leagues have come up in India. This article takes a brief look at these football bodies. Please keep reading.

Arunachal Pradesh football league

Also called Indrajeet Namachoom League, it has 10 football clubs currently. Some of these clubs are Capital Complex, Gora Makik, and so on.

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In Goa, we have the Goa Premier League, also called Selvel Goa Pro League. The Goa Football Association runs the GPL or Goa Premier League.

The 2020-21 Goa Professional League had the following teams:

  • Churchill Brothers
  • Calangute Association
  • Youth Club of Manora
  • Dempo
  • Guardian Reserves
  • Goa Reserves
  • Panjim Footballers
  • Salgaocar
  • Sesa Football Academy
  • Vasco
  • Sporting Clube de Goa
  • Velsao

The champion clubs (local) are Dempo, Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers, and Sporting Goa. Dempo, Salgaocar and Churchill have appeared several times in I-League matches.


Karnataka has a Bangalore Super Division. The teams for the 2019-20 seasons were:

  • Army Service Corps
  • ADE
  • Bengaluru FC
  • Bengaluru United
  • Kickstart
  • Madras Engineer Group
  • Ozone, and may others.

Bangalore Super Division is the top division in Karnataka, and the winner gets the George Hoover Trophy. This division has 10-14 teams and is run by the Bangalore District Football Association. Teams can enter the Bangalore Super Division in two ways. They can either come through the Bangalore A Division or by paying money to the BDFA.

The A Division forms the second-tier and has 10-12 teams, while the B and C Divisions from the third and fourth tiers of the system.

Kerala Premier League

Kerala has produced some of the best Indian footballers. The football ecosystem of this state is quite robust. There were 12 teams in the 2020-21 Kerala Premier League. These teams were:

  • Gurukulam Kerala
  • KSEB
  • Kerala
  • Sports Academy
  • Luca
  • Kerala Blasters
  • MA College
  • Kerala Police
  • FC Kerala
  • Golden Threads
  • Kovalam FC

The 2021 Kerala Premier League was the 8th season of the KPL. Twelve teams participated in the tournament which had a home and away format.

West Bengal

In Bengal, we have a Calcutta Football League. For professional reasons, this league is also called SNU Football League. The oldest football league in Asia, the CFL is run by the Indian Football Association. There are more than 160 football clubs associated with this league.

The CFL has a 7-tier structure and has more than 8,500 players registered with it.

In 2015, all the CFL clubs were divided into seven divisions, The last division or the Seventh Division is exclusively for the younger players of the league. These Divisions are:

  • Premier Division (A&B)
  • First Division
  • Second Division
  • Third Division
  • Fourth Division
  • Fifth Division Group A
  • Fifth Division Group B

The teams for the Premier Division for 2019-20 included:

  • Aryan
  • Calcuttan Customs
  • Bhawanipur
  • George Telegraph
  • East Bengal
  • Mohun Bagan
  • Mohammedan
  • BSS
  • Peerless
  • Rainbow
  • Southern Samity
  • Kalighat


Maharashtra has the MDFA Division, and is based in Mumbai. This league acts as a qualifier to the I-League. There are 14 teams currently in this Division.

  • Air India
  • Bank of India
  • Central Bank
  • Century Rayon
  • Central Bank
  • Dena Bank
  • Maharashtra Police
  • Mumbai Customs
  • Karnataka Sporting
  • ONGC
  • HDFC
  • Union Bank of India
  • Western Railway
  • University of Mumbai

Mahindra United, Air India, and ONGC have won the league championships the maximum times.

Mizoram Football League

The MFL is managed by the Mizoram Football Association. Founded in 2012, the MFL has eight teams. While the top team wins the championship, the team at the bottom goes to the Division round. The rest enter the relegation playoffs.

Shillong Football League

The Scotland of the East has its own football league, which is managed by the Meghalaya Football Association. The Shillong Football League was founded in 2010.

Royal Wayingdoh and Shillong Lajong have won the title the maximum times.


The Indian football league system has expanded the sport throughout the country. Even states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have state leagues of their own. The success of the league format is shown by the fact that the FIFA U-17 took place in India a few years ago. However, the state leagues must improve the level of football in India.

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Gian Chacko

Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.