Watching Mizoram has been one of the greatest delights of this National Games. The little men in red are attractive, quick and so wily that nobody has been able to stop them. They are just one victory away from walking away with the gold here. What a ‘double’ that would be!
They are also the reigning Santosh Trophy champions. Mizoram surprised everyone when it triumphed at the National football championship at Siliguri a year ago. It was its maiden Santosh Trophy triumph.
“That was the happiest day in the history of Mizoram sports,” said Victor Lalbiakmawia, a former player who is now the team’s assistant coach.
“More than 15,000 people had turned up at Aizawl to receive the Santosh-Trophy winning team.”
That victory was the result of imagination and hard work by the football authorities in Mizoram. “The Mizoram Football Association has invested a lot in grassroots programmes,” said Victor. “We now have excellent academies which keep producing quality players.”
This National Games team alone is enough to give us an idea about the depth in Mizoram football. Only two players, David Lalrinmuana and William Lalnunfela, were part of the Santosh Trophy team.
“We have many players to choose from, in different age-groups,” said Victor.
“The Mizoram Premier League, which began in 2012, has also been a big boost to the sport. Football is a passion for the entire State of Mizoram.”
Mizoram has already produced stars such as Jeje Lalpekhlua, Shylo Malswamtluanga, Lalrindika Ralte, Robert Lalthlamuana and Lalramluaha Hmar. For a tiny State, with a population of just over one million, Mizoram is indeed making some giant strides in Indian football.