21 year wait KenkreFC ready for debut


I-League 2021-22 LIVE – Kenkre FC I League: After a gap of four years, high quality footballing action is all set to return to Maharashtra with Kenkre FC joining the I-League. The management had thought their chance had gone when the team fell just short during the I-League Qualifiers. But the footballing gods had other plans! After Chennai City FC failed to fulfill club licensing criteria, Kenkre FC suddenly found themselves with the golden ticket. Follow Live updates on InsideSport.IN

Also read: I-League 2021-22: I-League all set for return with three new teams & promise of bigger things to come

I-League 2021-22 LIVE – Kenkre FC I League: The journey started back in 2000 when Adib Kenkre along with a handful of cadets started practicing the beautiful game in a small portion of Shivaji Park, the cradle of Indian cricket. A football club in India is a tough gig to run but passion and hard work behind the scenes has seen the club rise slowly up the ranks, from participating in the second division for the first time in 2008, to finally getting the chance to play in the I-League.

I-League 2021-22 LIVE: Kenkre FC set to dazzle after reaching the promised land, a journey 21 years in the making

“This feels like a dream come true. Sir Kenkre, CEO Joshua Lewis have put in a lot of time and effort. The journey has taken 21 years and has been more about passion and that is why we never gave up and now we are finally here,” said coach Akhil Kothari, who himself is an academy graduate and the youngest coach in the league.

Yash Mhatre, who will play as striker for the club this season, is aware of the challenges that the club had to undergo in order to reach this stage. He has come up from the academy and will finally get his chance to shine among the big boys.

“Being from the academy, this journey feels extra special. We all know running a football football club requires money, corporate backing because the sport has still not seen the kind of influx of money like in a few other sports. The club has managed to stay afloat and now here we are,” the 26-year-old said during a virtual interaction.

I-League 2021-22: Kenkre FC set to dazzle after reaching the promised land, a journey 21 years in the making

And the club’s philosophy has also helped them to reach this level. The plan from the very beginning was to give the city of Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra a place to learn the game and enjoy it. This can be evidenced from the fact that during the I-League Qualifiers, 23 players were from Maharashtra.

I-League 2021-22: Coach Akhil Kothari and striker Yash Mhatre aim to make Mumbai & Maharashtra proud with their efforts
I-League 2021-22: Coach Akhil Kothari and striker Yash Mhatre aim to make Mumbai & Maharashtra proud with their efforts | Kenkre FC Twitter

And the plan heading into the I-League remains same, though with a few tweaks because of the nature of the beast. Mumbai has a considerable football fan base, something most people don’t realise. We want to tap that and now with us reaching the I-League, we are hopeful more and more kids will take to the sport.


“As for this season, it is going to be a challenge. We have 16 players from Maharashtra which includes 10 players from our academy. We will also have players from other states and a few foreigners. The aim is to build a competitive side with a good mix of youth and experience,” the coach added.

I-League 2021-22 LIVE: Kenkre FC set to dazzle after reaching the promised land, a journey 21 years in the making

The I-League is going to be a whole new ball game. The new format and the return of relegation means it is going to be a slug fest right from the start. But both coach Akhil Kothari and Yash Mhatre said the club is ready for the challenges while adding that other teams should take them lightly at their own peril.

“We are excited to perform and show that we belong here at this level. We want to be competitive but the goal is not just to survive but to excel. And we have shown during our journey that we are in it for the long haul and anything is possible and we are dreaming big. So do not write us off,” both averred.

Kenkre FC’s first match is against Real Kashmir on December 31. For all players and staff associated with the club, the promised land is finally here.

I-League 2021-22 LIVE: Kenkre FC set to dazzle after reaching the promised land, a journey 21 years in the making

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