After the Santosh Trophy triumph in 2014, Mizoram is in the football news again with 15-year-old Lalchungnunga Chhangte getting selected to train at Germany’s Bundesliga for a period of six years. Lalchungnunga, who has been nicknamed Mizo Messi by the locals, was scouted to train with the Bundesliga from one of Tata Trust’s football academies as part of a special MoU between the trust and the Mizoram government.
One of eight siblings born to a daily wage labourer, the midfielder has been able to overcome his family’s poverty and continue chasing his dreams.
Lalchungnunga’s selection comes as big news to his family, especially his father Chhangte Laldinmawia, who had almost given up on his dream of watching his son become a famous footballer.
Mizoram has a rich history in football. They may have won the Santosh Trophy only recently but it has long been a cradle of football in the region. It was adopted by Fifa’s Grassroots Project that gave the state an artificial turf at Luangmual in 2011.
The state has its own Mizoram Premier League that has eight teams in the first division. In 2015, Aizawl FC had become the first Mizo club to qualify for the I-League, the top flight football league of India.
But from the likes of Jerry Zirsanga to Shylo Malsawmtuluanga, India striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and present East Bengal and Atletico de Kolkata mainstay Lalrindika Ralte, Mizoram has a long history of producing talented footballers. Lalchungnunga could well be on his way to joining that list soon.