Known for its quality of football, the Northeast houses a state that doesn't have a league. To top it all, it doesn't have a team to field for the Subroto Cup.
“I cannot recall watching Arunachal Pradesh play in a long time," said Arijit Ghosh, secretary-general of the Subroto Cup Society. “We send them the invite every year but there is no response from the other side.”
While Manipur boasts of names in top-flight Indian clubs, Meghalaya's Lajong F.C. became the first club from the region to enter I-League.
Arunachal have little to look up to barring Gumpe Rime, who keeps the goal for Lajong.
“There are no age-group tournaments, and when a tournament happens, fraud clubs play the event and disappear. This keeps parents from sending their children to tournaments,” Rime told HT from Shillong. Grounds aren't available. The Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Itanagar hosts events like archery, boxing and is never free. When I was 16, I came to Guwahati to follow my passion and played for SAI," he added.
Pranab Majumdar, director, Directorate of Sports & Youth Affair, said from Itanagar: “The condition at the grass-root level is pitiable.” Majumdar further says that there was talk of forming a sports association to promote sport, but nothing has been done as yet.
The Ramakrishna Mission School, from Aalo district, runners-up in Subroto Cup in 1986 and 1988 have even stopped participating in the meet. Swami Vashishthananda, secretary of the school, said: “There are no training facilities and more tournaments should be arranged to motivate the students.”