Aizawl Turns Into a Sea of Red

Thursday, 4 May 2017|John Zothansanga
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For the first time ever the I-League trophy, all the way from Shillong reached Aizawl City on May 01 as thousands of fans lined up on the streets to cheer their heroes.

An open 407, which carried Aizawl FC players and coaching staff slowly slithered its way through the streets of the city with the I-League trophy on the top of the bus. Men, women and children cheered for their heroes in a victory parade like no other in North East football history.

The team bus followed by hundreds of fans welcomed the champions at Lengpui airport, a 30 km drive from Aizawl. It was the moment when emotions overflowed.

As the clock ticked to 5:30 pm, Aizawl FC squad through a cacophonous sea of reds entered Lammual, where the Mizoram Football Association organized their Grand welcome function. The excitement was soaring with fans singing the name of Aizawl FC. Captain Jaryan was the front-man holding the I-League trophy, followed by fellow players who danced to the tune of 'Khual lam' (a mizo traditional welcome dance).

Just a few years ago, the top league in Mizoram was played in mud or clay field. The only professional player people boasted about was S. Malsawmtluanga. But, today Mizoram is a state with most players in the country's top tier league and the champions!

Almost all of the city’s 240,000 inhabitants had turned out to celebrate the achievements of a club. "This is hard to believe! Really? Are we the champions of I-League? Is this a dream?" said a fan, with his face painted red.

When Mizo popular singer TBC Zaithanpuia took the stage, the song 'Ro min rel sak ang che' inundated the stadium, as people gave a standing ovation to it - which is officially accepted as a theme song by the Mizo Football Association.

Aw nang kan Lal kan Pathian,

I hming ropui ber se,

I hma a kan lo kun hian,

Kan dil ngaithla ang che.

Kan awmdan tur ngaihtuaha,

Mipui kan inkhawm in,

Finna ropui min pe la,

Ro min rel sak ang che.

 

Oh our Lord, our King and God

Let thy name be glorified,

When we bow down on our knees

Lord please hear our prayers.

When we seek for the future

And gather in your name

Help us to be wiser

And let you be our guide

 

Among thousands of people, you could see fans singing out loud with tears in their eyes. One of them was Lalnghinglova Hmar, the honorary secretary of Mizoram Football Association, the man who is to be credited for the footballing revolution in Mizoram.

He stood with tears in his eyes, tears that have seen many ups and downs, tears that were once shed for footballing development in Mizoram. Tears of sorrow now turned into tears of joy.

"Glory be to God. The hard work has been paid off. We already have Santosh Trophy and National Games football in our trophy cabinet. Look at us today, we now have the I-League trophy too," said Tetea Hmar in excitement, as he unfurled his shirt which reads 'Champions of India'.

The Home Minister of Mizoram R. Lalzirliana was another man who was full of excitement as he recalled the match in Shillong. "After 45 minutes of the game, I was on my knee praying. And when that goal came, I could not help but say 'Halleluiah' as loud as I could."
Joining him was the fans with a thunderous applause as they can relate themselves to what the minister has said.

"I promised the AIFF we will come back stronger after they reinstated us at the league. And I am happy the players and coaching staff of Aizawl FC kept my words,"  said a jubilant Robert Romawia Royte, the owner of Aizawl FC.

Another unforgettable moment happened when HC Sanglura, a Mizo popular, set foot on stage - he is the father of Aizawl FC's winger Brandon VL Remdika. "I am proud of my son," he said as the fans cheered him, joined by the whole Aizawl FC squad on stage.

As the sun went down, the beautiful cell phone lights took over the Lammual like a sea of fireflies.

“This is unbelievable. Amazing,” a satisfied Khalid Jamil told Feverpitch.

Many trophies will come again; another successful year might await Aizawl FC, but this I-League trophy, will go down as one of the greatest football achievements in Indian football history - forever. Because a fairytale has been scripted.

Special thanks to Lawm Kima Tlau for the amazing photographs