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The sources of this series of articles on Football in Mizoram include
Vai, New Delhi compiled this article. However, the authors of the article are
Abhishek Ganguly, Marcus Mergulhao, Saumyajit Basu, Siddharth Saxena
The Aizawl Sport Association started in 1945.
It withers away over time.
Sangliana takes the initiative to re-establish the Aizawl Sport Association.
The name of the Aizawl Sport Association is changed to Mizoram Sports Association.
The football unit of the Mizoram Sports Association is hived off into an independent body called the Mizoram Football Association.
2003: first sub-junior (under-16) title
Mizoram won its first sub-junior (under-16) title at Aizawl in 2003 and the Santosh Trophy campaign has borne fruit after a decade-long pursuit.
Mizoram was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2012.
The senior State football team found itself at the centre of a controversy for participating in one of the worst on-field violence in Santosh Trophy history.
The shame it brought upon itself with that incident in 2012 at Bhubaneswar, where the Mizoram players fought with their Tamil Nadu counterparts in a free-for-all and saw five red cards (three from Mizoram and two from TN), apparently put the State into deep introspection.
2012: Mizoram Premier League
Then came the watershed moment when Mizoram launched its first professionally designed league — the Mizoram Premier League (MPL) — a few months after the Santosh Trophy fiasco.
“We had the belief, but we were waiting for the breakthrough, which came on Sunday evening at Siliguri when we lifted the long-aspired Santosh Trophy,” the new and energetic Mizoram Football Association (MFA) secretary Lalnghinglova Hmar, told The Hindu from Aizawl. The rogue tag that got unofficially attached to Mizoram has been shed with it winning the National crown.
The introduction of the MPL coincided with the Mizoram government instituting three artificial turfs in Aizawl and neighbouring Lunglei.
That was the second big reason that has helped the growth of structured football The MFA also entered into a Rs. 1.25-crore deal with local cable TV giant Zonet making the MPL a widely supported event.
2013 and ‘14: Golden year: Mizoram football rules India
Mizoram in 2014 is what Manipur was some 10 years before, Around 2005, Manipur’s supply line gave players to clubs across the country. One season, there were 85 Manipur players in the National League. Mizoram’s triumph in the national football championship for the Santosh Trophy March 2014 has caught the fancy of the nation’s football lovers and it is pertinent to remind them that the Mizos won the junior nationals also, in Ranchi September 2013. It was a thumping 6-1 win over Assam for the U-17 BC Roy Trophy.
The March 2014 victory, also a maiden one for Mizoram, was long time coming.
Jeje Lalpekhlua, currently playing for Dempo, has been the mainstay of the Indian team and his combination with Sunil Chhetri was one of the few inspiring things about the national team under Wim Koevermans, till the 23-year old Mizo got injured.
For Manipur, football provided the escape route from the socio-political turmoil that the state was going through at the turn of the century. It is not the same for Mizoram. Their success rests on the solid bedrock of organisation, planning, government support, some honest will and effort of people like Hmar.
Perhaps, Mizoram is the template for other states to follow.
2015: historic win in I-League
Aizawl FC make history
Become First Mizoram Club To Qualify For I-league
Aizawl FC authored a new chapter in Indian football by qualifying for the top tier of the I-League after emerging champions in the second division with a round to spare in Golaghat, Assam, in May 2015 .
Aizawl FC beat state-rivals Chanmari FC 4-2 in the penultimate round to take their tally to 31 points from 13 matches.
Aizawl FC became the fourth team from the northeast to feature in the country's top league, but the first from Mizoram. They thus broke the monopoly of Shillong, which has produced three I-League clubs -Lajong FC, Royal Wahingdoh and Rangdajied United FC.
It's indeed an outstanding achievement by a club which was established in 1984 and almost became defunct a decade later. It was the untiring efforts of current president and owner Robert Romawia Royte which revived the club. And, within five years, they won the Mizoram Premier League and, now, have found a place among the elite clubs of Indian football.
The entire bunch of Aizawl FC players represented Mizoram in the National Games in Kerala earlier this year and emerged champions. That helped the team immensely in their second division I-League campaign.
The players were together for over three months and that helped foster team spirit. They also learnt a lot from theirr campaign in the second division I-League in 2014 when they failed to gain promotion.
Apart from their foreign players -strikers Alfred Jaryan (Liberia), Morgan Justice (Nigeria) and defender Emmanuel Chigozie (Nigeria) –there was praise for midfielders David Lalrinmuana (captain) and Rohmingthanga Lengpui. Aizawl FC has a good midfield and that allowed it to control most of the games.
2015: Chawngfianga lifts Subroto Cup (U-14)
The Times of India, Sep 25 2015
SUBROTO CUP - Mizoram school clinches U-14 title
Chunnfa Hmar scored a brace and grabbed the best young player award in the sub-junior boys (U-14) category of the Subroto Cup as GovtChawngfianga Middle School, Mizoram beat Esteqal School from Afghanistan 3-2 after added time to lift the cup at Ambedkar Stadium on Thursday . This wasn't the only time Hmar has shone in the tournament, as his pace and composure on the ball was constantly on display in all the games that his team played. Chief selector of the Subroto Cup and former India captain, BhaskarGanguly said, “The first match gave me clear evidence that the boy is talented. The real test was to see whether he could maintain that level in front of a larger audience and media presence.It is safe to say that he did his talent justice today .“
The contribution of MFA's grassroots programme and the MPL
It’s Raining Mizo Footballers
Loads of talent and hard work characterized Mizoram’s triumph in the 68th Santosh Trophy, 2014. Long-term planning, infrastructure development, effective development programmes at the grassroots level and the introduction of the Mizoram Premier League (MPL), all contributed significantly to Mizoram’s success in the National Football Championship, thereby making the state a force to reckon with in North-East’s rich football heritage.
Mizoram Football Association (MFA) secretary Lalnghinglova Hmar (born 1978) is credited with ushering in a football revolution in Mizoram. He reckons the MPL played a key role in transforming the state’s football landscape. “A few lucky ones got a break in I-League clubs but a significant number of equally good players had nowhere to showcase their talent. The MPL has given them that platform,” said Hmar
Hmar also credits the state government for supporting MFA’s grassroots development programme, which has been declared by All India Football Federation as the best in the country. It follows the FIFA model. Youngsters in the age-group of 6-12 are part of this programme.
Top Mizo players are already making their presence felt at many I-League clubs. Apart from the veteran S Malswamtluanga, the likes of Jeje Lalpekhlua, Lalrindika Ralte and Robert Lalthlamuana too have made their mark. Many more will follow. “I believe what you are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Larsing Ming, the general secretary of Shillong Lajong FC, the first club from the N-E to feature in the I-League.
Lalbiakzuala, who the manager of the Mizoram team in the Santosh Trophy and is the technical secretary of the MFA, feels there is a need for a club from the state to qualify for the I-League. At present there are two I-League clubs from the North-East — Shillong Lajong FC and Rangdajied United FC — and both are based in Shillong. Shillong is the educational hub of the N-E region and is a cosmopolitan city. The two clubs have nurtured talents from the region. In fact, there are quite a few Mizoram players playing for Lajong.
Mizoram club, Aizawl FC, is the best bet to make a foray into the country’s elite club competition.
MPL: A RUNAWAY SUCCESS
The Mizoram Premier League, says Lalnghinglova Hmar, secy of Mizoram Football Association, is “Mizoram’s biggest entertainment”. Dinthar are the current (2014) champs.
The league is drawing big crowds — a good mix of men, women, young and old. Unlike many other leagues across the country, the league has a steady sponsor and all matches are televised live on Zonet Cable.
A popular Mizo sports website is also reported to provide online streaming of some important games to the rest of the world.
Aizawl FC is Mizoram’s most organized team and has fulfilled all of the tough Club Licensing criteria, mandatory for a place among India’s elite.
Players Help Each Other, Do Charity Work Together
Winning begins at home for Mizoram Lalrindika Ralte waits for the weekend in Kolkata and it’s not for any football action.
Every week, mostly weekends, the East Bengal midfielder waits to meet his fellow Mizoram players like Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Robert Lalthlamuana and Samson Ramagawia at popular meeting places and once the meeting is over, he eagerly looks forward to the next meeting. Ralte, popularly known as “Dika”, among India’s most promising footballers.
Since Malsawmtluanga joined East Bengal in 2002 and showed Mizoram the way, players from this North-Eastern state have found favour with several I-League clubs. East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting, Bengaluru FC, Dempo Sports Club all have Mizoram players, although most of them play for clubs closer to home; Shillong Lajong FC and Rangdajied United FC, both based in neighbouring Meghalaya, is home to at least ten Mizo footballers.
“Unlike Manipur, we made late starts. Manipuri footballers started moving out of the state in the nineties, but until Malsawmtluanga (Mama) joined East Bengal, we had no clue about Indian football, or ways and means to get there,” says Dempo striker Jeje Lalpekhlua.
The Mizo group is a close-knit family and are never at odds with each other. In fact, most of them pick up the phone, speak to each other and find out ways to help people back home, who may not be as fortunate as them. “We try to help our society which has given so much to us. We know they need our support,” explains Dika, who along with Jeje, endorse brands back home.
Dika once had to dig deep into his pockets to fund the state under-19 football team who did not have enough money to buy their kits for a national tournament. Jeje parts with his savings whenever his village club needs help. And, while Malsawmtluanga remains the man they all seek advice from —whether it’s planning their savings or moving to another club — all of them don’t think twice when it comes to contributing to the community.
“It is in our culture to help anyone who is in need. We are all friendly people,” explains Jeje. (It is the same culture that has made Mizoram the second most literate state in India. This achievement is all the more remarkable because the Mizos, as a people, almost totally illiterate a hundred years before. They did not have a script and only a microscopic elite knew outside scripts.)
Every May, when the football season takes a break for two months and the players head to their respective homes, the Mizos get together and play a series of friendly matches, proceeds of which are equally shared by the MFA and the chosen charity.
Aizawl finishes 8th in I-League, relegated
The Mizoram side finished eighth in the I-League 2016, one rung above bottom-placed DSK Shiva jians. However, DSK Shiva jians — a new corporate entry — had been granted immunity by the AIFF before the season began. This forced Aizawl out of the elite group.
Aizawl FC coach Jahar Das said nearly 90 per cent of his squad consists of local players — a feature not commonly seen among other Indian clubs.
Among Aizawl FC’s best achievements in its debut I-League sojourn was a 2-1 home victory over traditional powerhouse Mohun Bagan.
In the opening Federation Cup outing, held at Aizawl a few days ago, the club posted a 2-1 win over current National champion BFC. With an average spectator turnout of around 6,300 for their home league matches at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, the club has managed to build a healthy following.
The cause found support in BFC coach Ashley Westwood, who had said in Aizawl: “It’s disappointing to see them relegated because they play good attacking football, have pace and use local talent.”
I-League CEO Sunando Dhar stated that the Aizawl FC team management is yet to file an official request.
AIFF approves new rules, reinstates relegated Aizawl FC
The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Executive Committee approved new rules for the Indian Super League (ISL) which will take effect from the upcoming season of the lucrative tournament.
Keeping in mind the good performances of Aizawl FC in the last edition, the committee unanimously decided to give them a ticket to play in the 2016-17 edition.
Aizawl FC on a roll
The Aizawl story is team spirit and underdog positivity at its best.
So what makes Aizawl's title chase so special? Let's start with Jamil himself: he was shown the door by Mumbai FC after a decade-long association, starting with the under-19 team. Mumbai wanted to challenge for higher places and not just save relegation each year. Santosh Kashyap was brought in but has now been sacked, Jamil is challenging for the title and Mumbai FC are almost certain of being relegated. What about Aizawl? They were relegated last year; some say unfairly since they finished above DSK Shiva jians, the corporate club who are immune from relegation. And had it not been for the pull-out of three Goan clubs Salgaocar FC, Dempo SC and Sporting Clube de Goa Aizawl wouldn't have been here in the first place.
The team's budget too is one-sixth of most other teams and their players except for three of Jamil's favourites, including goalkeeper Albino Gomes from Goa are all locals.Significantly , none of the Aizawl players found a place in Stephen Constantine's 30member Indian probables list.
“We have to stay positive. The next match (against Churchill on Saturday) is crucial and then there is the potentially title-deciding clash against Mohun Bagan at home. I must give credit where it is due: the boys have been fantastic.
“Of course, there is pressure on the boys. They understand what they can achieve but they are reacting positively. Everyone is enjoying this pressure,“ said the Kuwait-born former India international.
Aizawl are placed second on the I-League table with 30 points, the same as Mohun Bagan. East Bengal are third, three points behind but the race is now clearly between the mighty Bagan and their unlikely challengers.
A parody Twitter account mocks Khalid Jamil for being delusional but the Aizawl FC coach is really under no delusions when he says that his side is challenging for the I-League title. “I think we will all be disappointed if we don't emerge as champions. We've come a long way and with just three matches left to be played, our chances are as good as anyone else,“ Jamil said with three games left to be played,
The road to the 2017 I-League final
Aizawl A Match Away From I-League Title
Football dreams are made of these. If the rain hung heavy in the clouds, the thunder played out on the turf below. Eleven thousand Mizos and some more jumped and swayed and sang their he arts out in the April drizzle.Perhaps the quaking in the stands spread and got to formidable Mohun Bagan.
Fewer stories in Indian sport celebrate the universally-loved idea of the underdog bigger than tiny Aizawl FC's march this I-League season -they ran this club with a budget equivalent to what Bagan ostensibly spent on one player alone, Haitian Sony Norde, who received around Rs 2 cro re from the Kolkata giants.
On 22 April, Aizawl needed a two-goal margin to claim the title, Bagan needed to win the match.
The local side's 1-0 triumph -a header by Zohmingliana Ralte -meant that the tiny north-eastern club now travel to the final weekend of India's national football league needing just a point against regional rivals, Lajong of Shillong.
It should a fitting finale -Lajong were the first club from the region on the national map, and now, Aizawl have barged into the scene. Aizawl's belief showed in the way they kept Sony Norde, Bagan's Haitian ace under a tight leash. Norde's salary alone equals Aizawl's entire budget for the season.
To think, they shouldn't even have been here in the first place. Relegated in their debut last season, they were re-admitted to the footballing elite when Goan clubs fell out with the All India Football Federation over the I-League and ISL merger issue and they needed to make up the numbers.
Their coach, Khalid Jamil, a young man in the garb of an old-fashioned disciplinarian, was shunned in Mumbai where he had earned his stripes as a player. He rallied Ashutosh Mehta and Jayesh Rane, out of favour Mumbaikars, a Goan goalkeeper in Albino Geovani, Mahmoud al Amna, a Syrian ex-international who had played near Aleppo and the usual trusted batch of local players to forge this extraordinary story that speaks for the north-eastern identity just as it holds promise for modestly-financed but expertly-managed clubs in Indian team sport.
For long, we were comfortable with identifying the North East as the supply line of footballers to the rest of the country . If Manipur was the pioneer till a decade ago, Mizoram is the standard to follow today as many as was 58 players from Mizoram play for club in the ten-team I-League. Now they are carving out their own identity as a footballing unit on the national level.
Mizoram: Football Mizoram: Football stars
There are several other articles about Mizoram in Indpaedia.com, including
Chapchar Kut Edward Lalrempuia Mami Varte Miss Mizoram Mizo religion, culture, beliefs, songs, oral literature Mizoram Mizoram 1870-1926: Christianity and literacy Mizoram: A brief chronology (1946-1997) Mizoram: cinema Mizoram: From ancient times to 1946