- Mizoram granted artificial turf pitch for dedication to football
- The ground at Sairang Dinthar officially inaugurated on 8 March 2021
- Recent exploits have put diminutive state firmly on India's football map
Located in the extremes of the north-eastern region of India bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, Mizoram is a remote state in rugged, hilly terrain that is geographically unfamiliar to many from mainland India.
However, due to its recent exploits in the game, this diminutive state has been firmly put on the map in India. Despite numerous successes, the Mizoram Football Association - affiliated to the All India Football Federation - was yet to have a proper infrastructure under its authority.
The Mizoram State Sports Council had granted control of the local ground at Sairang Dinthar to the MFA in 2013. In 2016, the All India Football Federation President Mr Praful Patel stated at the AIFF General Body Meeting that Mizoram will be recognised for its hard work and dedication in football by being granted an artificial turf pitch using FIFA funds. In August of the same year, excavation work for the site began.
As the location of the site is rocky by nature, progress became laboured. Heavy monsoon rains received practically all-year round and the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in an extended delay during the final stages of the project; but ultimately, with astute planning and considerable cooperation and execution, the MFA Ground at Sairang Dinthar was finally completed.
The formal inauguration of the newly laid turf was held at the site on 8 March 2021 by Mr. Robert R. Royte, Hon’ble Minister for Sports & Youth Services, Government of Mizoram in presence of the Mizoram FA officials and staff, ex-players and current footballers and the community. FIFA Regional Office Development Manager South Asia, Mr Prince Rufus was also present. Speaking on this occasion, the Hon’ble Minister for Sports & Youth Services commented that as a football enthusiast and as a Minister of Mizoram, he conveyed his deep gratitude to FIFA, and he promised that the state government would construct a considerable number of artificial pitches in the near future.
Mr. Sanjeevan Balasingam, FIFA Director Member Associations, Asia & Oceania in his message commented, “On the inauguration of the FIFA Forward 1.0 Special Project 'Sairang Dinthar Artificial Turf, Mizoram', I would like to congratulate All India Football Federation and Mizoram Football Association. I am sure that this new infrastructure will help develop and promote football in the region more than ever before. FIFA is pleased to bring joy and football to the local community through this newly laid turf. I am aware that Mizoram Football Association has plans for the future focused around this turf and I wish all success for your ensuing endeavour."
Mr. Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation in his message said: “All India Football Federation is delighted to be part of the development process in helping out the Mizoram Football Federation with the artificial turf under the FIFA Forward Programme. The AIFF is committed to the growth of the sport in every corner of the country and is aware of the passion for the ‘Beautiful Game’ in the state. AIFF appreciates and is thankful to FIFA for all their help and look forward to the support and cooperation all throughout."
Now that MFA has exclusive control of this ground, the planning for Tribal Girls’ Hostel has also begun and the association can now focus on dedicated long-term grassroots and youth development programmes, as well as activities for the wider community.