GUWAHATI, Oct 23 � Way back in the year 1983, a new organisation was born in Shillong �Lajong Sports Social and Cultural Club. In Khasi language Lajong means �Our Own�. Gradually the organisation put more effort in the game of football and it joined in the third division football league of Shillong.
Within three years it became a first division club and was named as Shillong Lajong Football Club which generated enormous fans and supporters in the entire North-eastern region. Youth development has been the mantra of the institution. In the year 2008, the club became Shillong Lajong Pvt Ltd and qualified to play in the I-League, the major Indian football league initiated by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
One young boy was attracted by the club who later joined and played for the club in the Shillong Premier League in the year 2001 and scored so many goals.
But later he decided to work for the club as an official and became the Managing Director of the club. He is Larsing Ming Sawyan, better known as Ming in entire India. The 35-year-old Ming is now the youngest vice president of the AIFF who often comes out with new ideas for the development of the game in India. AIFF president Praful Patel hears him minutely and admires his new thingking.
Ming is one of the persons for whom the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) emerged. And due to his initiative Guwahati became on of the francises and the organisation added North East United Football Club (NEUFC) in the eight-team championship with the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Sarusajai, Guwahati as one of the venues. Ming is share holder and mainstay of the NEUFC.
He had a elaborate discussions with The Assam Tribune about Shillong Lajong and ISL. The excerpts.
Q: Shillong Lajong FC has been a house hold name in the entire NE region, how it helping in developing football:
We emphasise on developing the game at the grass-root level and now set up a U-19 team. Our club set up our academy in the year 2007 and from that academy we have produced several players who are now representing our main team. We also have five players who are in the present Indian U-19 team. I thing it is not a bad achievement. Apart from the I League we play in various major tournaments and also sent the team to places like Chabua, Duliajan, Golaghat, Ukrul, Imphal, Aizwal, etc., in order to generate integrity.
The infrastructure facilities in the entire NE region is not satisfactory which can produce players of international standard:
It is true that at present the Guwahati ISL venue has the best facility for hosting top class tournaments. But Shillong and Manipur are also coming up with artificial turfs and with other facilities. However, we have a long way to travel for providing infrastructure of international standard to our youngsters. But in last three years it has drastic changes in comparison to last 30 years.
Will ISL really help in uplifting Indian standard:
ISL is generating a football environment in the country and people are coming out to enjoy the event. It�s a good sign. ISL has taken the game to the masses. And if things go on like this Indian football will definitely go up. Indian cricket�s golden era began 30 years before when the Kapil Dev�s team won the World Cup. With the ISL football journey got off and few years to come we will definitely fine some results. At present we can�t expect Durga Boro to play like Sergio Contreras Pardo (Koke) of Spain. Hopefully our players will learn after playing in an ideal condition which will take Indian football to a better stage.
Most of the marquee players are in the last legs of their professional career. How they can help our youngsters in learning the game:
Maybe they have passed their golden era. But still they can be taken as ideal players considering their contributions to their respective nations in particular and the world football in general. Players like Koke, James Keene of England, Migual Garcia of Portugal, Do Dong-Hyun of South Korea still have touches and a lot can be learnt from these players. I believe our young brigade will be able to get some vital points from them to improve their performances in the days to come. I think the ISL teams should include some current players from which our players will be more benefited.
How the ISL will help team management, players and other supporting stuffs in every expects:
It will definitely give a good platform to all. All of them will get satisfactory financial back up. Moreover, the Indian players are getting the opportunity to play along side the former world cuppers from which they not only learn but also can develop their temperament for the games of the next stage. But the financial involvement is huge for the team managements. We have to wait and see in the days to come. Commercialisation and developmental aspects should come together for the over all success of the ISL.
Earlier it was announced that the NEUFC will set up training centres and academies in different places of NE region, but it is yet to be materialised:
The process is on. Hopefully this project will be initiated within a couple of years. Football loving people of the entire region have to work together for this project.