It marks the start of a new era, a new dawn for the Northeast.
And the reason — a football team that went from being a nobody to the first team to make it to the I League from the Northeast. Lajong FC, a team from Shillong, managed to achieve this incredible feat on Tuesday when they beat Pune FC 2-0 in the second division I League. With this, they have announced their arrival to the biggest stage of them all. So, are we going to witness a significant change in Indian football in the years to come?
“I couldn't agree more,” says Bhaichung Bhutia, India captain and undoubtedly the most well known face of the Northeast. “Definitely I can sense a change. We have great talent and there are still many left to be unearthed.
“The promotion means a lot back home for kids taking to the sport more than ever. This win has brought us in the limelight and a will to march forward with an incomparable power,” Bhutia added.
It surely has.
The obvious lack of state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure has never hampered footballers from the Northeast to make a name for themselves.
Explains East Bengal's Renedy Singh: “It's true we don't have state-of-the-art facilities, but we learnt our skills while playing on the streets. It's in our blood. Lajong have just opened the door for us. Hopefully, we can expect a huge change in a few years from now.”
But, having said that, Singh was quick to add a rider. “One should learn to sustain success. The initial hurdle has been overcome, now Lajong must focus on how to keep it going.”
Shalom Malswamlunga from Mizoram couldn't thank Lajong enough. “Many thanks to Lajong. A change has come,” says the Mohun Bagan player. “Who knows? A Northeastern team might be at the top.”
Gourmangi Singh, who turns out for Manipur in the Santosh Trophy, and is presently with the Churchill Brothers, was elated with the success. “I thank Lajong for letting the world know that it's not only Kolkata, Mumbai or Kerela. It's the Northeast as well! Our time has come, it was long overdue.”