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NEFL 2019: Futsal's popularity increasing by heaps in Northeast

With the conclusion of the first-ever Northeast Futsal League, the sport seems to be getting more popular in the football-crazy region.

NEFL 2019: Futsals popularity increasing by heaps in Northeast

Abdul Gani

Published: 5 Sep 2019 4:26 PM GMT

Futsal is growing in popularity all across the world and in India as well. If we talk about the history of Futsal, it’s almost a decade old. And now, with the first-ever Northeast Futsal League which just concluded, the game seems to be getting more popularity in the football-crazy region.

Recalling the early days of Futsal in Guwahati, Ranajit Mahanta who is the director of Proclivity Sports And Recreation (PSR) Pvt. Ltd that conducted the first ever Northeast Futsal League (NEFL), said that it was in the year 2008 when they first organized a five-a side game.

Mahanta told The Bridge:

We promoted it as a five-a-side game. We conducted a tournament at Chandmari and it was under lights. There were some tournaments like this were held and it was getting popularity because of several points like the convenient of the organizers and for the players as well because of the less time. That’s how it started.

He founded the Association of Youth Soccer, Assam 2008 to popularise the five-a-side game. After that in 2013, Mahanta got in touch with the Futsal Association of India (FAI) and after that Assam was eligible for sending their own team for the nationals in 2014.

Mahanta, who is the general secretary of Association of Youth Futsal, Assam (AYFA), added:

By then the five-a-side game was very popular without realizing that actually it was Futsal. Then we started spreading the news that it’s called Futsal and needed to play on hard surface. Due to lack of infrastructure we used to take cemented ground…like the basketball courts…that’s how we started to popularise the game.

Back in 2015, the first team from Assam were sent for the nationals in Rajasthan and after that, it continued. Then the team went to Goa in the next year and to Kochi as well. In 2016, the first inter-district tournament was conducted and immediately it was spread out to the rural areas across the state.

Mahanta said:

During that time, we had to depend on FAI and also needed to take assistance from that. It was only FAI at that point of time which was actually promoting the game. They also helped us in promoting the game in the NE region. Then we approached Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim…like way within a  period of six months, we had three teams from the region in 2017.

After that, Mizoram being a football-crazy state, the sport gained immense popularity within a short span of time. The Futsal Association of Mizoram took the initiatives to take it to the next level. They started to conduct their own leagues and so on. Gradually, it was also getting popularity in Meghalaya.

By 2018, all the teams in the region were ready and sent for the nationals. It was only at this time that Mahanta and the rest of the organisers realised that the northeast is interested in Futsal and they decided to introduce NEFL.

In 2017, Guwahati City FC conducted Guwahati Futsal Festival as per the rules of FAI. In their second edition at least 40 teams from different parts of Assam, Manipur and Sikkim participated.

In Mizoram, the first ever Futsal League under the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the MFA (Mizoram Football Association) Futsal League kicked off on January 5 in 2018 where 16 teams participated.

MFA vice president Lalsawma Pachuau said:

We have own Futsal League and the league has been organised twice so far, and the 3rd is expected to be organized in January next year. We follow the guidelines of AIFF. We have number of local tournaments as well.

The Futsal Association of Meghalaya (FAM) is also organizing the Open Futsal Tournament since 2017.

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