Kohima: The ongoing Naga Students Federation Martyrs Trophy is witnessing 50 clubs vying for the trophy. Football tournaments are a welcome event in the state, which also gave rise to the first Indian Olympics football captain. The rest of the nation may well be in the throes of cricket fever but for the boys in Nagaland, it is football that holds sway. And if it means putting in hours of practice for the ongoing Naga Students Federation Trophy, then so be it. The NSF Martyrs Trophy was started in 1987 in memory of two students who were killed during a students' agitation in the 80's and this year 50 clubs from Nagaland and a few other states like Manipur are participating. Football has a long history in the state. It was Dr Tali Ao from Nagaland who led the first Indian football team to the Olympics in 1948. But even though the game is very popular in the state which boasts of over two hundred football clubs, the lack of any infrastructure in the state is a major deterrent. There is only one local ground in Kohima and the state does not have any stadium. The Indira Gandhi stadium that was inaugurated in the early 90's is yet to be completed. "If the government could help, I would request them to improve the pitch, make it more compact and remove the sand so that in the rainy season, we can play safely and comfortably," said Khriele Yhor, a participant at the NSF Martyrs event. Football has great potential in the state and given the right kind of opportunities the state may well boast of their very own Beckham or Ronaldo in the years to come.
Topics : Football