Kolkata: I-League champions Mohun Bagan can play an important role in building the Indian team for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in two years time, Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Saturday.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) have got into a collaboration with the All India Football Federation following an MoU which outlines the basic framework of cooperation that includes raising standards of coach education, talent identification, talent development and optimal utilisation of infrastructure.
"We have signed an MoU to prepare India for the forthcoming U-17 world cup and experience clubs like Mohun Bagan can play an important role in improving the standard of football in India. I wish Mohun Bagan club all success," Sonowal said in his address at Mohun Bagan's 125th year celebration.
The sports minister said Kolkata football, boasting Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, has played a key role in the games' revolution in the NorthEast.
"We have seen the success of teams like Shillong Lajong and Rangdajied United and Kolkata, the so called heart of Indian football, has played a big role."
Bengal's iconic cricketer Sourav Ganguly, who also represented Mohun Bagan as a youngster, said the players and fans play an important role in the club's success.
"We all are aware of Mohun Bagan's legacy. My heartiest congratulations to all those attached with the club in this journey for 125 years."
Congratulating the I-League champions, he said: "The coach, Sanjoy Sen, his team and fans, a special congratulations. Remember the club and it's success is because of the fans.
"Football is very popular sport in India. I hope the club will take the legacy forward," Ganguly, who now co-owns ISL football franchise Atletico de Kolkata, added.
The grand function, attended by former Olympians Chuni Goswami and Gurbux Singh, among a host of other dignitaries, felicitated the I-League winning Mohun Bagan team besides giving them a cash award of Rs 10 lakh.
The green-and-maroon brigade also conferred their highest recognition, 'Mohun Bagan Ratna' on Arumai Nigam and posthumously to Karuna Shankar Bhattacharya.
Former India forward, Nigam, was part of the Chuni Goswami-led gold medal winning 1962 Jakarta Asian Games team as the duo were felicitated at the function.
Born in 1943, Nigam represented the Mariners from 1961-68 and won a host of titles including the Durand Cup and Santosh Trophy for Bengal.
Bhattacharya, who died in 1979, played alongside the legendary Goshta Pal during his stint from 1930-39.
After retirement, he donned many hats, from turning into an administrator to commentator.
Bhattacharya was Mohun Bagan's secretary and was also one of the first Indian football commentators.
Best Junior Player: Romario Angelo Topno (Mohun Bagan Football School), Pintu Mahato (Durgapur Academy).
Best Cricketer: Joyjit Basu (2013-14).
Excellence in Cricket: Wriddhiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Mohammad Shami.
Excellence in Football: Katsumi Yusa (2013-14), Debjit Majumder (2014-15).
Special Awards: Chuni Goswami, Sourav Ganguly, Gurbux Singh and Leander Paes.
Mohun Bagan Ratna: Arumai Nigam and Karuna Shankar Bhattacharya (posthumous).