Enfield Town FC India, named after the non-league North London side, have won the Ahmedabad District Football Association Third Division title.
The side, headed by Rutul Patel, secured promotion to the ADFA Second Division after thumping IIM Boys 5-0 in the final of the competition.
Patel is the man behind the club’s conception and this season marked his first back at the club after a three-year hiatus, having initially sold a 75% stake to an investor.
He said: “Three times we came so close to getting the promotion.
“We started in 2015 and around the COVID period we were almost at the point where we were succeeding so we sold 75% to one of the rich millionaires in India.
“But you know sometimes these rich people cannot handle the club, so we went from top and pushing for promotion to the bottom of the league for the next two years.
“He got fed up with the club and couldn’t handle it any more so back in August I took that 75% back myself for a very cheap price and we just got promoted straight away.”
The story behind the club’s name can be traced back to Patel’s visit to Enfield in 2015, where he managed one of the club’s youth sides as part of his journey to a UEFA B coaching license.
Enfield Town (UK) director Ram Ismail said: “He wanted to do some coaching at our club free of charge for his badges and then when he went back to Ahmedabad he started his own club and asked us ‘can I call it Enfield Town India?’ so we said yes, absolutely!
“When he came over with his team in 2017 we put on some coaching sessions for them and they played against our youth team.
“He liked the fact that we were the country’s first fan owned club.”
For Patel, it seems that there was more than just fan-ownership that drew him to the club and prompted him to honour them in the Indian side’s name.
He said: “I was so impressed with the way that Town was working and how they were structured and everything.
“I have such a soft spot for Enfield Town because of the first time I came in and the love and the support the club, fans, the parents, and the youth team gave to me.”
Patel is now keen to build a more official link to the club as the name alone proves a draw in India for people looking to take the sport further.
He said: “The fact that there actually is a pathway to play in Europe is our USP in India. If you are good enough this is not the only club you can play for.
“That quickly became very popular for us. I’m exploring a few opportunities for how we can collaborate with Enfield Town more.
“If we can actually send players from India here to train with them, it is a good financial opportunity for Enfield too as they get paid for training the players and the Indian players will get exceptional training from London in return.”
The Enfield Town pre-season tour of India might have to wait, however.
Ismail added: “It won’t happen yet, not unless we get a big Indian conglomerate that wants to sponsor us!”
Featured image credit: ETFC-INDIA