The Northeast Futsal League (NEFL) kicked off at the NC Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati, Assam on 25th August. 2019. First of its kind in India, the mixed-gender league saw six teams, viz. Meghalaya Thunders, Assam Titans, Mizo Falcons, Apunba Manipur, Nagaland Super 5 and Arunachal Highlanders, contesting for the top prize.
In the first match of the week-long meet, Nagaland Super 5 locked horns with Assam Titans. Eventually, Mizo Falcons lifted the maiden title by handing Assam Titans a 5-0 defeat in the final.
Only one season old, and still, the NEFL is widely being considered as a huge success. The league managed to pique the interest among Indian futsal enthusiasts. It also did a commendable job to popularise futsal in the North-Eastern region in our country and helped in inducing the culture of the sport in the area.
The intensity, match-ups and rivalries generated an unexpected buzz among the common people as well. It was the general consensus that, it being a mixed-gender league, the match-ups might not be as competitive. However, it proved to be otherwise as we saw some high octane encounters through the seven days.
The league showed the world that the concept of mixed-gender sports can work. The fever of futsal gained unstoppable momentum in the region.
More importantly, the way the league brought together all the habitants of the six states was outstanding. It provided budding youngsters with opportunities they could have never imagined. Not only that, it got people to actually back these youngsters and support them.
One can only hope that the NEFL will act as a springboard for providing young athletes with a big stage to showcase their talents in the years to come. Also, the idea of competing in a mixed-gender tournament, without gender segregation, will boost female participation in sport through channels of exposure and growth.