It was a noisy evening in the hilly town of Aizawl as people were celebrating Aizawl FC’s and a Northeast Indian club’s first I-League title win. The football fans of the small State were canvassing the streets with proud slogans for their beloved Aizawl FC.
‘The achievement of Aizawl FC is not only for Mizoram, but for all our brothers and sisters of Northeast India; the future of Indian football is exciting. As football continues to grow in this great nation, we should ensure that the sport is inclusive, impartial and most of all played for the love of the game’ says Dr. Lalrin Jahau, Member, Board of Governors of Aizawl FC.
All Aizawl needed to conquer I-League was a draw against Shillong Lajong in their last match and they didn’t disappoint by grabing their first I-League title by coming from behind. It was Shillong Lajong who were leading in the first half by an early goal in the 9th minute and it was in the second half that their substitute William Lalnunfela who scored for them in the 67th minute.
The journey of Aizawl FC
From being relegated in the last season to be the champions of Indian football, coach Khalid Jamil’s boys had seen it all. They only got the chance to play this year’s I-League because All India Football Federation (AIFF) reinstated them after two Goan clubs pulled out of the league. The coach Khalid Jamil was appointed as Aizawl FC’s head coach just before the start of the 2016-17 season and he delivered it for them.
At the start of the game, it was only 2500-3000 Aizawl FC fans backing their team but once Aizawl FC’s goal was scored , the whole Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium of Shillong packed with 23,000 spectators turned into Northeast faithfulls and only chantings of ‘Aizawl Aizawl’ was heard.
This shows how Northeast India is the original hub of football and with their win Aizawl FC have won hearts not only in Northeast India but in all corners of football loving India. From a dark horse to a champion, this Aizawl FC team has become immortal in Indian football history. They won their title only in their second year of playing at the top flight football tournament in the country.
Sentiment of fans
This sentiment was echoed in the facebook post of IRS officer Ibu Sanjeeb Garg. He wrote, ‘Mahmoud Amnah the midfielder, is from war ravaged Syria, hasnt been home for 6 years. Coach Khalid was sacked from Mumbai FC last year. The whole team costs less than the Mohun Bagan striker Sony Norde. At one glance they look like a ragtag team of local boys with little money . All they had was fans , all the had was heart.’
Ruthi Chaltansawmi Ralte, a resident of Aizawl and a die hard Aizawl FC fan says, ‘Aizawl FC played like true champions, now they will conquer new heights’.
Assam’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted ‘A historic moment! Congratulations @Aizawl FC for winning the @IleagueOfficial. You make us proud and inspired. #Heroleague.
Written by- Jadeed Hussain