Nagaland’s football has undergone a significant transformation in recent years as Indian football slowly grows. The state boasts a rich community of football enthusiasts and players, yet the lack of infrastructure and exposure has often been blamed for hindering opportunities for the state’s talents.


MDFA Trophy
The MDFA Trophy (File photo)


MLA Benei M Lamthiu, who is also the General Secretary of the Nagaland Football Association (NFA), in a telephonic conversation with Mokokchung Times said, “We are striving to popularize football in the realm of sports. We aim to provide platforms for the youth to pursue professionalism in sports. We are looking ahead, but this transformation cannot occur within a short timeframe. In the coming years, we are planning to develop the necessary infrastructure. We want to host high-quality leagues in our state to provide better opportunities for young talents.


Therefore, we are hopeful and optimistic that things will improve.”


It may be noted that over the past few years, the government, led by CM Rio, has made efforts to promote games and sports in the state. In December 2022, Kalyan Chaubey, the president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), inaugurated FIFA Football for Schools in Nagaland at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Kohima.


In addition to infrastructure development, the NFA maintains a busy schedule. MLA Lamthiu explained, “We have received a directive from the All India Football Federation that every trophy or tournament in the districts should be conducted through the district associations, which will then be submitted to the NFA for approval.” However, he clarified that not every tournament in the state is binding within the NFA, even though all district associations are affiliated with the NFA. “Some trophies are organized by the district’s students’ associations, but are carried out with the knowledge of the NFA,” he said.


“We have numerous tournaments in our state, including police tournaments, making it challenging to manage the calendar and include all of them in the NFA schedule. Only those recognized and prestigious tournaments are included in the NFA calendar because accommodating all trophies, including those at the village level, is a challenge,” he explained. Another reason for not binding everything within the NFA is that the NFA is also responsible for organizing other tournaments at the national level.


However, he emphasized that all major trophies in every district are binding, stating, “We have issued directives from the AIFF, and we have asked them to follow these guidelines. The districts have been very cooperative, and they are coming forward, sending letters to the NFA. We are doing our best to streamline football in our state.”


On postponement of Dr T Ao Trophy

Regarding the postponement of the Inter-district Dr T Ao Trophy, Lamthiu explained, “Tuensang District Football Association (TDFA) approached us to host the trophy in October, but the NFA did not approve it. Before their approach, the organizers of the NSF Martyrs Trophy had already been given the fixed date and time in October. Also, right after the NSF trophy concludes, we are scheduled to host another trophy. Following that, we are planning to host the Women’s Inter-District tournament. Therefore, we have had to postpone the Dr T Ao Trophy to the early part of next year.”


He also mentioned that the NFA is working with the government to organize some national trophies in the state, saying, “If it’s in God’s will and if the government helps, these plans are also on pipeline.”


Regarding the possibility of having two Dr T Ao trophies in 2024, he said, “We still need to discuss this at an AGM. We will wait for other district associations to come forward with proposals to host the trophy after the Tuensang trophy and go from there.”


On rescheduling of MDFA

Following the postponement of the Dr T Ao Trophy, the Mokokchung District Football Association (MDFA) Trophy 2023, originally scheduled for September 19, was rescheduled to October 17 to November 3.


Regarding this, Lamthiu said, “We are very thankful to the MDFA. Previously, Tuensang District Football Association proposed holding the Dr T Ao Trophy in October, but we didn’t approve it for the reasons mentioned earlier but keeping that in mind MDFA preponed it to September from their original schedule in October. However, MDFA adjusted their schedule to match the original routine in October after the Dr T Ao Trophy was postponed.”


He also commended MDFA’s decision to organize an ‘Open’ tournament in 2023, viewing it as a great opportunity to popularize state football. Emphasizing football’s ability to bridge linguistic and other divides, he praised such open tournaments as a positive development.


On cash prize ceilings

When asked whether the NFA imposes cash prize ceilings for tournaments, Lamthiu clarified, “We do not set prize ceilings. It depends on how the organizers manage themselves with their funds.”
Addressing concerns that prize money might deter clubs from participating in certain tournaments in the state, he said, “Certainly, managing a club is challenging, but football is a unifying game.


Clubs should prioritize the joy of the sport over prize money. Football is meant to be enjoyed.”However, he also added that if MDFA’s open tournament proves successful, discussions about prize money may be considered in the future.



Mokokchung Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *