Enchanting arena: Hills of Mizoram alive with the sound of football
Aerial view of FIFA-funded artificial football turf in MizoramImage source: IANS

Enchanting arena: Hills of Mizoram alive with the sound of football

FIFA-funded artificial football turf is set to strengthen Mizoram's development programme

Aizawl: Nestled in the hilly and picturesque area of Sairang Dinthar, just 18 kms from Aizawl city, a newly-laid, FIFA-funded artificial football turf is set to strengthen Mizoram's development programme.

The Mizoram state government, which gave Rs 80 lakh for levelling the rocky area for the football field, officially handed over the ground to the Mizoram Football Association (MFA) on Monday. "We already have nine artificial grounds, spread across the state. But this will be our main training centre in future," MFA secretary Tetea Hmar told IANS about the future plans.

With the financial support of the world governing body (FIFA), and recommendation of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the foundation stone for the construction of the football ground in Sairang Dintharwas was laid in 2016.

According to Hmar, the playing area of the new ground is 105 x 68 metres while it has a four-metre high steel wire mesh on all sides. "There is a six-metre mesh behind each goal post. The world governing body has also provided equipment, including a tractor for maintenance of the artificial grass," he said.

On the opening of the ground, a grassroots football festival was organised. There was an exhibition match between the veterans' teams. Hmar said without the support of local people it wouldn't have been possible to have a ground in the region.

Mizoram has 30 players representing different teams in the Indian Super League (ISL). "In future you will see more players making an impact at the national level," said Hmar.

With the support of the state government, a 100-bed hostel is also coming up. "Our goal is to have Sairang Dinthar as the main training centre of the state where we can also have coaching and referees' course," he said.

Artificial football grounds have been key to the development of the game in the state, says Hmar.

"Due to heavy monsoon rains throughout the year maintenance of natural grass is expensive. And because of the local weather conditions it is not practical to train regularly on a grassy ground. So, we use natural grass for competitions," he explained.

The state has made rapid progress in the men's football, but development of the women's game has not progressed much. "Women's football has been neglected but we plan to invest heavily in this area too. In the next five years we should make good progress," said Hmar.

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