New Delhi: Northeast’s biggest football extravaganza, 13th NEC Northeast Tamchon Tournament, kicked off to a colourful start in New Delhi on Saturday evening. The annual football championship is often described as the largest platform of its kind to showcase young talent in the sport from the region.
For the next one fortnight, 16 teams will be sweating it out at Ambedkar Stadium in the national capital for the coveted trophy. A project of the Tangkhul Naga Society Delhi, one of the primary goals of the tournament is the promotion of national integration under the overarching theme of ‘Unity, Friendship, Understanding and Sportsmanship’.
Explaining the rationale behind the choice of Delhi as the venue, Northern Officer, 13th NEC Tamchon Trophy & joint secretary Tangkhul Naga Society Delhi, Raskan Jonah, told EastMojo, “While promoting the Northeastern region we also wanted to foster national integration. Organising the tournament in Guwahati or Imphal would have confined it to the region.”
He felt that over the years the tournament had helped in strengthening mutual understanding and appreciation between people from the region and the rest of India.
The final match of the championship will be held on November 9.
The 13th edition of the tournament was inaugurated by first-time Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Outer Manipur, Dr Lorho S Pfoze. Special commissioner of Delhi Police and well-known social activist Robin Hibu as well as principal commissioner of Customs and GST, Suakzathang Nunthuk will be presiding as guests of honour at the ceremony.
In keeping with the spirit of the event, a variety of cultural performances, including a Khasi war dance from Meghalaya, traditional dance by members of Arunachal’s Nocte tribe and musical performances by artistes Sorin Shimray from Manipur and Sansophy Jajo were held. For other than talented footballers, the event has also served to showcase the diverse and rich cultural heritage of the Northeast by giving new artistes a chance to reach out to a wider audience.
Over 3,000 football players have participated in the tournament since its inception in 2007. According to the organisers, nearly 100 players from among them have found placements with leading national and regional football clubs in India.
The championship had very humble beginnings with only Rs 2 lakh in cash prize for winners. However, with the North Eastern Council (NEC) adopting it as one of its own events has made the organisers feel a lot more secure in terms of finances.
“If this partnership with NEC is sustained in the long-term, we will be able to get more talented teams to participate in the tournament,” opined Jonah.