Historical Region

Panjab, or Punjab, is a region in the north western part of the Indian sub continent. It’s one of the oldest inhabited places on Earth – one of the three cradles of civilisation alongside ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Modern Panjab crosses the border of two countries – there’s the Indian state of Punjab and Panjab Province in Pakistan, which contains the traditional capital of Panjab, Lahore. The capital of the Indian state of Punjab is not actually in the Indian state of Punjab, but  the neighbouring state of  Matterh Pradesh, which forms part of the wider historical Punjab region (before the British turned up and started drawing flags and telling everyone it wasn’t Punjab after all).

The region’s history is chequered with invasion and conquer. Alexander the Great who took the area in 300 BC and then just sort of left, and an 18 year-old Arabian Prince marched to Panjab in 700 AD, bringing Islam with him.

A period of relative stability followed for roughly a thousand years, during which period Guru Nanak (who you might remember from year 9 RE class) was born there and founded a new religion – Sikhism.

The British Raj

This led to the rise of the Sikh Empire, which lasted from the late 1700s until the British arrived in 1849.

The British carved a nice life for themselves, governing around 20% of the population of the globe from Shimla in the Punjab region. It wasn’t a life built for the benefit of the locals though, who forced the British out in 1947, with hasty arrangements made as to what would happen next.

Over the course of 72 days, The British Raj divided into hindu majority India, and Muslim majority Pakistan, with the dividing line running straight through the middle of the biggest Sikh stronghold, Punjab. Muslims who found themselves on the wrong side of that line rushed one way while Hindus and Sikhs who were on the other side rushed the other way. There was horrific violence as ethnic tensions came to fruition and general civil unrest followed the end of the British Raj. The death toll is thought to be in the millions.

Runners-Up

The Panjab Football Team was founded in the UK in 2014 to represent the Punjabi diaspora all over the world. They took part in their first tournament in the 2016 ConIFA World Cup, and made it all the way to the final. They were 2 minutes away from glory, before letting in a late equaliser and losing the game on penalties (which is to be expected given that most of them are based in England).

They’re one of the more active sides in the world of ConIFA football, and Harpreet Singh, the founder has appeared on Sky and the BBC to try and promote the team and the Punjabi identity.

Last year they became the first team from the Indian sub-continent to play an England representative side, after losing 2-1 to England C.

One of their warm up games for the 2018 ConIFA World Cup is another high profile clash against Liverpool’s U23 side.