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Nagaland: Women rise while men fall in football standard

Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, APR 28 (NPN)
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Published on 29 Apr. 2013 1:14 AM IST
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During the recent years, female sports-persons from Nagaland have proved their mettle in the most popular game of football, by bringing laurels to the state while their male counterparts continue to experience a downslide. 

On April 10, 2013 Nagaland women’s football carved sports history by defeating women soccer power house Manipur in the 27th edition of NE Games at the latter’s own home ground - Khuman Lampak main stadium in Imphal.

The Naga women thrashed host Manipur 4-2 in a nail biting tie breaker in the final match. The victory was perhaps the first time that Naga women achieved in the region.

In contrast, the Nagaland men’s football team continued to show a downslide, which was evident at the recent dismal performance in the Dr.T.Ao Memorial Tournament held in Shillong. The Nagaland men’s football languished at the bottom at the recently concluded Northeast Dr. T. Ao Memorial tournament held in Meghalaya, where it failed to win even a single match.

For the first time, the tournament was played on synthetic turf (astro-turf) in Shillong, from March 18 to 27. Nagaland lost to Assam 0-2 and received a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Meghalaya.

The once renowned IGP XI team of Nagaland carried the game to its pinnacle during the seventies when it won several major tournaments in the region as well as at the B.N. Mallik Memorial All India Police Games.

The police team featured in almost every finals of major regional football tournaments such as ATPA, Independence Day cup and NE Police football cup.

Earlier, the young boys from Kohima Government High School were runners up in the Subroto Mukherjee Cup in 1971 a feat later followed by Mokokchung Government High School. Dimapur Government High School was joint winner in 1980 and runners up in 1982 and 1983.

The downslide began after the 90s when the game was robbed off talent. Since the legendary North East Dr. T. Ao brought laurels for the Nagas through “beautiful game” football, Nagas have marched forward in contributing to the development of football not only in the northeast but also the country. 

However, the progress of skilled Naga footballers seemed to have been caught in the proverbial whirlpool of stagnation with the game.

Recently Nagaland Post contacted Nagaland Football Association (NFA) president, Atuo Mezhür over the downslide and he admitted that the recent team performances was definitely “very poor” especially in the recently concluded Northeast Dr. T.Ao memorial tournament and Santosh Trophy.

He attributed the poor show in Shillong on the unfamiliarity with playing on synthetic turf (astro-turf). “Our boys have never played in this condition”, so this was another reason for the poor show by the state, he added.

Atou claimed that the lack of communication between the NFA and the organizers of the Dr T.Ao tournament in Shillong led to late intimation which contributed to the eleventh preparations.
 Despite the announcement of State Sports Policy in 2006, to encourage and motivate the youth in the field of sports, arts, and music little headway has been achieved.

According to an ex-state player, there is need to appoint professional coaches beginning from each stage of Under-14 ; Under-17 and Under-21 as is being done in other states.

The ex-player also felt that proper training facilities and housing and proper diet were necessary and stressed on imparting strict discipline among players.

Atuo pointed out that the problem faced by the state persons is lack in management skills, financial resources and infrastructures. On financial reason, Atuo said that NFA was getting Rs. 2 lakhs “annual grant” out of which 10 percent was deducted by the sports department.

Of the fund received, he said that NFA sent senior team, U-19, U-16 and U-17 (women team) to various tournaments.

However, he said that government cannot be blamed for this and put the onus to the players to come up with a good show, to take the game further ahead. “Whatever we do we are doing our best”, he added.

On NPL, Atuo said that the association convened a meeting on April 12 to chalk out the programmes for organizing the second edition.

 
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