Every year since 1992, Mizoram has been celebrating Independence Day with what they know and love best: football. The ‘LG Independence Cup’ , the oldest active cup competition under the Mizoram Football Association (MFA), culminated at Lammual stadium, Aizawl. The final match was played between Mizoram Premier League club Chhinga Veng FC and former I League champions Aizawl FC — the former won courtesy a single goal from MS Dawngliana.
“Independence day in Mizoram means football. Not only in Aizawl but district football associations in the state also organise football tournaments to celebrate Independence day every year,” said Lalnghinglova Hmar, the honorary secretary of Mizoram Football Association.
In Siaha — a remote town in the southern part of Mizoram — the finals had to be suspended due to unprecedented fog in the area. However, as night fell, and it was too dark to play considering the field had no floodlights, the game was almost called off. But the Mizo enthusiasm for football saw it through. People surrounded the field with their cars, keeping their headlights on. And that’s how the game was played.
“Football in Mizoram is more than a game, but is also a way of life. When we talk about Independence day in the state, it is not about political debates or religions, it’s all about football. It is like celebrating your freedom with football,” Hmar added.
Also part of the Independence Day games was a dedicated womens’ football tournament. “Women’s football in Mizoram has taken great strides in the past few years,” said Hmar, adding that the MFA is also planning to introduce professional womens’ league for the first time in the state, modelled on the Mizoram Premier League.
“We hope womens’ participation in the Independence Cup will create more interest in women’s football,” he said.