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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

As Mizoram awaits Aizawl FC’s big I-League day, feast for local team’s win

Aizawl FC face Mohan Bagan in a vital I-League clash on Saturday that will decide who wins the title, but community feasting a day earlier showed small teams too are big in football-loving Mizoram.

football Updated: Apr 22, 2017 10:31 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times
Players of Chinga Veng FC, a community club of Mizoram, posing with the trophy and certificates after winning a popular inter-village and local council championship in the  state.
Players of Chinga Veng FC, a community club of Mizoram, posing with the trophy and certificates after winning a popular inter-village and local council championship in the state. (HT Photo)

This I-League is big for small Mizoram, especially with home team Aizawl FC in title contention. So is every football tournament that pits one locality or a village against another.

Almost everyone in the Mizoram capital was preoccupied with football – rather Aizawl FC’s chances of beating Mohun Bagan on Saturday for the I-League title.

Some 4,000 people of Chinga Veng had football in mind too. But their focus on Friday was on celebrating the victory of their locality club in the inter-village (includes urban localities) football championship.

Read more | Aizawl FC eye history, hope to cross Mohun Bagan hurdle in I-League

Small is beautiful in Mizoram

The championship, held in each of Mizoram’s eight districts for 35-40 days, can at times involve 200 teams per district. “Tomorrow might belong to Aizawl FC, but today belongs to Chinga Veng FC,” Sawmi, vice-chairman of Chinga Veng local council told HT.

Chinga Veng FC won their first inter-village football championship in decades for Aizawl district that ended a few days ago. This feat for the locality thus called for a community feasting.

The entire locality turned up at the Chinga Veng Community Hall to felicitate the football team and feast on rice and meat-heavy local dishes such as vawktui zikhlum, a pork stock soup with sliced boiled cabbage.

“Every family contributed for the local team as well as the feast, the bill working out to more than R3 lakh,” Sawmi said.

Robert R Royte, the businessman-owner of Aizawl FC, was among the major contributors – not because his firm, North East Consultancy Services, has been backing the inter-village tournament for two years now. He is a resident of Chinga Veng.

Read more | Aizawl FC’s dream run fashioned by loss-making Mizoram Premier League

Community comes first

“The locality football club is as important as my team (Aizawl FC). And it is more important, for a well-knit society like ours, to participate in the celebration with the entire locality,” Royte said.

“Football is our religion, it is in our blood. So we celebrate everything about the game, even if an outsider might think we go overboard even for locality-level matches,” Rimpuia, the head of Chinga Veng FC Fan Club, said.

Mizos celebrate footballing occasions of a magnitude seemingly smaller than inter-village. One of them is a 20-year-old tournament organised by Young Mizo Association (YMA), which regulates social activities for the community. The YMAs are regulated by the Central YMA, the apex body.

“The YMA tournament is in May, and it will be played across 804 branches in Mizoram and beyond, including one in

Reaching beyond the border

Bangladesh where a small section of Mizos reside. These matches help us locate talented players to be nurtured for bigger stages,” Chhhuantea, the general secretary of Central YMA, said.

The Chinga Veng celebration, though, helped some 100 hardcore members of Aizawl FC Fan Club gather to pray for their team and discuss crowd control for Saturday’s I-League match between Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan.

The fan club is headed by David Zohmangaiha, a mountaineer who scaled Mt Everest some time ago.

First Published: Apr 21, 2017 23:02 IST

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