On Monday night in Aizawl’s Lammual Stadium, a team of engineers, police officers, drivers and businessmen, all between the ages of 40 and 60, became the champions of what is arguably the country’s first veteran football league.
The Mizoram Veteran Football League‚ organised by Mizoram Football Association’s (MFA) Veteran Committee, had its debut season that started on November 6, with four teams from Aizawl being divided into East, West, North and South Zone. In the 90-minute final between Aizawl South Zone and Aizawl East Zone on Monday night, the latter emerged as victors with a 3-1 score.
While the league registers players only above the age of 40 (born on or before 1978), fielding two players above the age of 50 (born on or before 1968) during a game at all times is mandatory.
For the players, the league has given them another chance at the sport they have loved. “I believe this is one of the best steps taken by the MFA. Even though we might be above the age of 40, the passion for football still stays and we are happy to have this platform. We don’t want to just be armchair football enthusiasts,” says Zosangliana, 40, midfielder of Aizawl South Zone, who used to play for Republic GSA, Ramhlun South and Kulikawn back in the day. He now works as a businessman in Aizawl.
The MFA not only runs the top tier league Mizoram Premier League (MPL) and now the Veteran League, but MPL Under 18, Under 15 league and Baby League, it has also made Mizoram the only state in the country to run a proper Futsal (five-a-side football match) League under the recognition of All India Football Federation.
“Considering veteran football league is a new thing to the people, I believe our first season is a huge success,” says Lalnghinglova Hmar, the honorary secretary of Mizoram Football Association, “We hope to expand the team in the coming years and make the league even bigger.”