Arunachal Pradesh,[India] Oct. 22 : The 7th NEC Dr. T. Ao Memorial Football Tournament, which is an eleven-day football tournament, is underway at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Naharlagum in Arunachal Pradesh.
The tournament is dedicated to the memory of Dr. T Ao, who captained independent India's first national football team at the 1948 London Olympics. Sponsored by North East Council (NEC), the tournament has teams from seven out of eight northeastern states, barring Mizoram.
In the opening match, Manipur defeated Meghalaya by five goals. The opening day was marked by cultural extravaganza. Young boys and girls performed traditional dances and songs of the host state. Speaking on this event, which aims to boost budding players, by nurturing their talent, a coach from Meghalaya said, "In this level of football we need support from the referee especially for the team which is young and fresh therefore moral support is very important.
I would say Manipur is a better team as they played a better game and won. We will try to revive and modify our planning and work on our mistakes for better results." The Gangte Chapi-led team from Arunachal Pradesh is also looking forward to competing for the Santosh Trophy scheduled to be held during February-March next year.
Later, the mega championship showcased a grueling match between Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh where the latter won by seven goals.
Likha Tapu, working chairman of the tournament, said, "As a football association, we feel whoever wins is the deserving one.
As an organising committee, we are trying to serve our best hospitality to the audience, participants and host the tournament smoothly." The captain of the Arunachal Pradesh football team added that they could not coordinate properly, and therefore, they lagged behind by four goals.
"We guys played a fair game and our playing ground is same as the Nagaland ground. No one can say we have dominated, and being a host, we have always welcomed our guests in the most hospitable manner.
Preparation is good for the next game and we will try to give our best," he said. The state's top football event - the 15th Tadar Tang Memorial Football Tournament - will be held in the first week of December and the Dera Natung Memorial U-16 Football Championship will be organised in January.
The Northeast region of the country boasts of immense talent in sports, especially football. Regular events are being hosted in the region to sharpen the skills of the players. Organizing such tournaments boosts the morale of the players..