Ratobe Poireng, 23, is a native of Poilwa village in Nagaland’s Peren district

Kohima: Following the legacy of Dr T Ao, the frontman of Indian football, the sport in Nagaland is gradually picking up in the subsequent years. Now, the news of Naga youth Ratobe Poireng’s selection to a European football club is opening a new window to the world for footballers of the state.

The 23-year-old footballer was recently selected by the Swedish fourth-division club Lilla Torg FF. Poireng, who hails from Poilwa village under Peren district, was selected after a month of intense training and tryouts, making him the first Naga footballer to be picked by any European football club in recent times.

Poireng, whose real name is Namherangding, told EastMojo that he discovered his passion for football at the age of 10 years and later decided to pursue football as a profession. “I gradually lost interest in studies and I decided to become a professional footballer when I was 14 years,” he added.

Recalling his journey, Poireng said: “Being the youngest son in the family, my siblings and my dad really wanted me to continue with my studies but I followed my heart and started to work hard to prove that football is my calling. Since then there is no turning back!”

The hardworking midfielder said, “No matter what, even during the chilly winter, I would get up at 3 am and go for jogging, then practise to stay fit and active. But most of all, I always have faith in God that if I do my best, he will do the rest.”

While Lilla Torg FF will mark his first international debut, Poireng said that he was introduced to the club with the unconditional support of his coach Sabestian, Mike Mirucki, and the youth resources & sports department.

“I feel honoured and humbled to be the first Naga to join one of the European football clubs. I am really looking forward to working with the club and have a good footballing life,” he added.

He will be playing for the Club by March or April next year.

Ratobe Poireng (right) with Lilla Torg FF CEO Bengt Mansson

When asked about his opinion on the football scene in the state, he said: “Nagas are second to none and there are so many good and talented footballers, but we lack professional training and facilities. Another problem is that we don’t have a standard league. But of course, nothing is impossible and it is never too late if we are decided. So, we all should work together for the upcoming young footballers in Nagaland.”

Saying that it took him good long years to make it to an international platform, Poireng added: “Right now, I just want to focus on where I am.” He, however, wishes to excel even more in the field and never give up towards achieving greater heights while keeping his “dream alive”.

In the recently concluded Dimapur Premier League (DPL) 2, which was played at DDSC stadium in Dimapur, Poireng’s team — State Boys Hostel — emerged as the champion.

Poireng had also previously participated in a try-out at a 1st division Bundesliga club — Hannover 96. Youth resources and sports (YRS) advisor Zale Neikha said that the club had shown great interest in Poireng for future inclusion.

Earlier, Poireng has played for Barak FC Peren and Guwahati Town Club besides other local clubs in the state.

Poireng has played for Barak FC Peren and Guwahati Town Club, besides other local clubs in the state

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