By Debayan Mukherjee, New Delhi, Mar 20 IBNS | 8 months ago

The North East part of the Country has for long been touted as the 'Nursery of Indian Football.' With two Clubs from Shillong representing the region in the Airtel I-League and Mizoram winning their maiden Santosh Trophy in Siliguri, Gouramangi Singh feels this is the best phase of the Sport in the region.

In an exclusive interview, www.the-aiff.com spoke to Gouramangi Singh on the mood, the transition of Football in the region, Rangdajied FC and much more.

Excerpts:

Is this the best phase of Football in the North East region of the Country?

As of now you can say so. There are two Clubs from Shillong in the Airtel I-League and there is also Royal Wahingdoh who is in the Second Division League Final Round. So there is certainly plenty of representation from Shillong as far as Airtel I-League is concerned.

Not to forget Mizoram has also recently won the Santosh Trophy and a lot of their Players are being looked at by Airtel I-League Clubs. However, I hope this can only get better and spread over to other States as well. We need professional Clubs from Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Assam to come into the I-League at some point.

Please shed light on the transition of Football in North East over the years.

North East has always been a hot bed for Football talent but never for Football Clubs. Over the past two decades if you see most Clubs would have had at least 2 to 3 Players from the North East playing in their Teams in the National Football League and the I-League.

However, with the emergence of Clubs from Shillong, presently there are more options for a Player. Nowadays, a Footballer from North East need not necessarily venture out to play outside the region. Personally I hope for the full transition and wait for the day when all Manipuri Players can play in a Manipur I-League Club and so on.

What do you make the current of Footballers from your region?

There is plenty of talent but we need to do much more work at the Grassroot Level. With the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup approaching there should be plenty of Academies, Football Schools of excellence, etc in the region.

Schools should also tie up with Football Academies to make better educated Players who excel in the game and also have a back up career from their education.


Subrata Paul contributed a lot for Rangdajied during his short stint, says Gouramangi Singh. (The picture was snapped during a Team India Camp).

What's your take on the likes of local talents like Lalnunpuia, David Ngaihte, Munmum Lugun and others who have carved a niche for themselves?

All of them are very talented but we need to keep upgrading ourselves. We need to train hard and put in 100% both on and off the field. Talent alone cannot win you anything. Systematic training, development and education for these Players are of paramount importance too.

The Players named above can all play at the highest level it is just about growth development and consistency.

What has been at the heart of Rangdajied United's incredible run of form of late?

The form of late has been good due to the three recent victories on the trot. Since I joined the Club in November 2013, I have always maintained that the squad has some quality Players and after getting to know each other, we have started working well as a Team.

A few more additions in January including that of Ranti Martins have made a difference as well. If you look carefully, every Player is playing his role. Even when Subrata Paul was here, though only for a short stint, he made a difference with a couple of match winning performances.

Needless to say, you can't ever ignore the commendable contribution and the commitment of the Coach and his Team of backroom staffs and the management.

Experienced players - yourself, Tomba Singh, Steven Dias and others are doing well too. Do you feel that the Club a heady mix of youth and experience?

I agree! In every Team you need to have a few experienced Players and a few youth Players. It's all about getting the right mix. I am looking forward to staying here for a few good years and contribute to Indian Football to the best of my abilities. Tomba Singh is someone whom we have looked up to a lot during our younger days and it's always great to have him in the Team.

Steven Dias as we all know can be one of the most dangerous wingers in the Country and he is hitting form at the right time.

Who do you feel will win the League this year?

I think Bengaluru FC have a good chance to win it in their first year itself if they can sustain the momentum. But you never know in the Airtel I-League anything is possible.

Where do you see Rangdajied United finishing this season?

Our main aim is to save relegation. We want to be part of the League now and aim higher in the next couple of years. More than us aiming to win the title I would say the League needs winners from the North East. The amount of adulation the Sport receives in the region is amazing and accolades can be the best inspiration.

Image: AIFF

(Posted on 21-03-2014)

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