Last night a few outcast footballers became part of Indian footballing folklore as Aizawl FC became the proud and rightful champions of the I-league.
The North-eastern part of India has been famous for producing great footballers. Many national legends have hailed from the hills of the North-East. And Aizawl winning the league was a credit that was long overdue to the North-eastern people. This part of the country has always been neglected from the Indian mainland for one reason or another. And the local youth, devoid of basic facilities have always looked up to football as a way to shine in life. And Aizawl winning the league will provide renewed hope to all those youngsters in the mountain who have just started playing football.
Aizawl FC did not try anything fancy. They just played the game as it was meant to be played. And in doing so they not only won the title but also won our hearts. During the start of the season, no one would have ever thought that Aizawl would win the league. Maybe that is what motivated them. They had no pressure to perform. No one had pinned their hopes on them. Each time they went onto the pitch all they had to do was play good football. And look at where good football has brought them today.
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) April 30, 2017
They went into Shillong needing just a draw to secure the title, but as faith would have it, they went behind in the first half. But with grit and determination, they clawed their way back into the match and equalized in the second half. They held on that scoreline until the final whistle and the scenes at the end of the match were just humbling, to put it simply.
Last year a certain Leicester City came out of nowhere and won the Premier League. And it might be safe to say that Aizawl is India’s Leicester City. It will definitely be a tough act to follow in the next season. But hope is something that has helped them lift the trophy. And hope is something that they will never give up on.