New Delhi: There is no denying that the North-East has been the hub for Indian Football for over two decades now.
Aizawl FC took it one step beyond when they were crowned Champions of I-League in 2016-17, thus reiterating the fact that football is an integral part of the culture in the land of the 'seven sisters' - be it from flocking to the stadium in numbers or playing on the field after a long day of work -- football caters to everyone, regardless of gender."Football flows like blood in everyone`s veins in the region," former India International Renedy Singh smiles.
"Football is the number one sport in the region and there is no denying that everyone born just wants to play Football. It is very important for the kids to engage in competitive environment from early on," he adds.
"The right way of playing football from the grassroots level should be taught to the kids from a young age and by working on the grassroots we can further harness the true potential."As part of developing a grassroots culture, All India Football Federation`s (AIFF) philosophy on Baby Leagues has been implemented in the state of Meghalaya and Mizoram.Even as Aizawl FC captured the imagination of entire country winning the I-league 2017-18, Renedy attributes "self-belief" being none other than Shillong Lajong FC."Lajong`s performance in the I-League and their consistency enabled others to dream.
Lajong are the pioneers of giving young players inspiration in the region. They have set the tone for clubs to form the region," he maintains."And Aizawl FC proved that it is very possible that a Champion can be crowned from the North-East.
Aizawl FC took Shillong Lajong`s example and movement forward."Reflecting on Neroca FC`s dream run, Renedy feels the club`s run has been nothing short of "inspirational."
"Neroca FC`s run for the Hero I-League title this season has been inspirational for everyone in the state of Manipur and the northeast of India.They have done well and I hope they do well in their last match (against Kingfisher East Bengal).
"The North-East has the potential of being a stronghold of football in India when it comes to club level and the effects of Aizawl FC and Neroca`s dream run are being seen in the entire region," he stated.