There are three things most Bengalis feel passionately about – Tagore, Communism and Football. Every sports lover in India knows that there are football fans. And there are Bengali football fans. The bragging right of being the most passionate football fans is something the Bengalis have earned. After all the first Indian to ever kick a football was a Bengali.
It was the summer of 1877 when 10 year old Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari witnessed a game of football being played by the British in the maidans of Calcutta. At some point the ball rolled over to him and Nagendra Prasad, who was observing from the sidelines, kicked it back to the playing arena. That moment it is said was the first time an Indian kicked a football. Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari went on to set up many football clubs in Calcutta and is now widely regarded as the father of Indian football.
It was probably this history that attracted Atletico Madrid to the city of Kolkata. The only city in the sub-continent where three football legends — Maradona, Pele and Messi — have set foot. It was thus befitting to the football stature of the city that the first ISL club that gets formed should be from Kolkata. Atletico, Sanjiv Goenka, Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia and Utsav Parekh ensured that.
The club is an interesting Spanish-Bengali marriage with elements taken from both cultures. Nothing showcases this better than the team logo. The Atlético de Kolkata logo symbolizes power, magnificence and fierceness of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The Tiger meets The Phoenix, a mythical creature that denotes perpetuity. The tiger's stripes in the logo indicate that this is a team that has earned its stripes thanks to the pedigree and legacy inherited, first from Kolkata's long-standing association with football, and second, from the expertise brought in by Atlético de Madrid.
The five stars that form a circle in tandem with the Tiger's wing-span represent the five owners of Atlético de Kolkata, namely Sanjiv Goenka, Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia, Utsav Parekh and Atlético de Madrid. While the use of a shield is keeping with classic football club identities Atlético de Kolkata’s is shaped very bullet-like, possibly to remind fans that the club is future-thinking, forward-moving and relevant to today's game. I love how the logo acknowledges the past while launching itself into the future.
Even though Atlético de Kolkata is a new brand yet the brand has pedigree. I am glad they are recognizing this and bringing this element alive. The use of the color gold reinforces their lineage. The jersey looks regal with its red and white stripes. Red's energy, danger, strength, power, determination is tempered with a touch of blue- which brings in stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence and faith. The yellow-gold, reserved for the winged-tiger and the five stars, reinforces the sense of royalty, majesty and illustriousness that is part and parcel of Atlético de Kolkata's identity.
As a brand it is quite solid. Even the partnership with Atletico Madrid seems like a strategic masterstroke for both parties. Atletico till a few months back was a completely unknown brand in India. Its association with Kolkata has given it instant recognition. As a commercial football club, being recognized by a billion plus Indians can only be good news. It opens up so many new revenue streams. This partnership is also beneficial for Kolkata. A top tier Spanish club can transfer a lot of best practices with regards to player and infrastructure development and management. These lessons if applied properly can only benefit Indian football.
Though for now Atletico de Kolkata’s focus will be on uniting the fans of all the prominent Kolkata clubs such as East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Md.Sporting and get them under one banner. Imagine all that passion that exists for these individual Kolkata clubs - united. If that happens, Atletico de Kolkata thanks to their fans will be one tough team to beat at home.
I would like to thank Rudradeep Banerjee of Second Innings Sports and Entertainment which is the Social Media and Digital agency for Atletico de Kolkata. Rudradeep was kind enough to help me with all the multiple questions I had about the team.
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Updated Date: Oct 11, 2014 23:04:51 IST