Imphal: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Tuesday stated that hosting an international football tournament in the state has been a long-awaited dream for Manipur, particularly for soccer enthusiasts in the state.

He shared these thoughts during an interview with EastMojo on the sidelines of the third and final match of the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, which took place at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal.

Despite being a hub of talent for national teams and some of the country’s top clubs for decades, this was the first international football event hosted in Manipur.

Having accomplished the dream and aspiration of the football-crazy fans of Manipur, CM Biren expressed gratitude and appreciated AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey and his team for the golden opportunity of hosting such an event.

“I would like to thank the AIFF, as they have given us a chance to host the tri-nation football tournament, and it is the first kind of privilege we have received. Without their support, it would never have happened like this,” said the chief minister

The chief minister also thanked the officials and players from Myanmar and the Kyrgyz Republic for being a part of the tournament.

“We know that the Indian football team has seen several Manipuri players in each category, such as the national team or senior national team. After witnessing several decades of players being produced from Manipur, the AIFF decided to create an opportunity for Manipuri players and fans to host the first international football tournament. We know that this event is going to be a full house, and Manipur has very positive and vibrant vibes that will help the Indian football team,” said AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey.

The final match between India and Kyrgyz Republic drew a massive turnout of people from across the state, making it one of the biggest football gatherings in Manipur. In front of a packed stadium at Khuman Lampak, the Blue Tigers (India) secured their second successive win against the Kyrgyz Republic with a score of 2-0, and claimed the tri-nation tournament cup.

“I’m not surprised because I know that Manipur has tremendous potential in football. I thank the government of Manipur, under the leadership of Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who has provided immense support in hosting the tri-nation tournament. So, I think this is a very positive sign for Manipur and a new beginning for Manipur football,” added Chaubey.

Prior to the match, the Manipur government signed an MoU with the AIFF for logistics and technical support to establish a football academy for the first time.

“Establishment of a football academy under the aegis of AIFF is a significant step for the state of Manipur. The academy will definitely encourage and groom talents from the grassroots, and we would be able to produce more international footballers. It will be a great boost for the state,” said CM.

According to the AIFF president, as per the agreement, the Manipur government will provide land and infrastructure, as well as the operational cost. AIFF will provide technical support and talent identification, he added.

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Following the grand success of hosting the first international tournament in Manipur, the AIFF is positive about returning to the northeastern state to host more international events in the future.

“I had a long and detailed discussion with Chief Minister N Biren Singh. We will explore how Manipur can have the opportunity to host this kind of tournament,” said AIFF President Chaubey.

“The most important factor is to ensure that India plays against teams of equal or slightly superior ranking so that there is competitiveness and players get the chance to develop themselves, as well as improve our FIFA ranking. Therefore, we will try to host as many international matches as possible, whenever FIFA windows are available,” he added.

Also Read | Manipur signs MoU with AIFF to set up football academy 

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