Kohima: Determined to put Nagaland on the world map, 14 girls, who have undergone intensive football training under the guidance of FIFA grade-A coach Sebastian Rasmussen for the past four months, have set out for Sweden to participate in the Gothia Cup.
Gothia Cup is considered the largest and most international youth soccer tournament in the world. Every year, more than 1,700 teams from 80 nations take part. This year, the tournament will take place at Gothenburg, Sweden from July 14-20. The Sports Club (SC) Nagaland team will play its first match on July 15.
In all, 22 members, including youth resources & sports advisor Zale Neikha and other officials, left from Indira Gandhi Stadium, Kohima after a press briefing on Tuesday.
Addressing media persons, Neikha said that while the team is all set to represent the country, it is also a one-time opportunity for the Naga girls to represent the unique culture of the Nagas. Adding that the team will be seen in the traditional attire of the various Naga tribes during the opening ceremony of the tournament, Neikha expressed hope that the Naga identity and culture will attract the onlookers there.
Neikha hoped that the team will be able to “compete professionally at the highest level with other teams and come out as winners at the tournament, showcasing to the rest of the world [that they are] talented as a sportsperson”. The advisor further said that the step “will motivate and inspire other budding sportspersons to excel and become professionals at the national and international level”.
Speaking with EastMojo, one of the players said, “We are so excited and nervous at the same time. Our training sessions went very well and our coach is very friendly.”
Another player said, “We have learned a lot of new techniques and ideas about football this time and we will definitely give our best.”
With more than one million participants from 143 countries, Gothia Cup is the world’s largest international youth football tournament. Each year, around 1,700 teams from 80 nations take part and play 4,500 games on 110 fields.