Every morning at around 5, 12-year-old Kito Sumi would hitch a bicycle ride to meet his uncle, a newspaper vendor in Dimapur, Nagaland. His uncle would hand him a bundle of newspapers and ask him to deliver at specific locations across the city. An obedient Kito would follow his uncle’s instructions. The daily grind was monotonous, but Kito didn’t complain. The dreary exercise of selling newspapers every morning had a definite purpose. With his hard-earned money, he planned to buy football shoes to participate in the annual community league soccer tournament.
Kito hails from Xelhozhe, a quaint village in Dimapur district comprising around 50-60 households. Son of a farmer, his elder brothers have represented Nagaland at the state-level. “As a child, I would play football near the paddy fields all day.
However, for participating in such tournaments, I needed football shoes, which my father could not afford. I had canvas shoes, but they were worn out, due to overuse,” he says with a sheepish grin. After selling newspapers for a little more than six months last year, Kito, finally armed with his football shoes, was now ready to participate in the local tournament. However, little did he realise that his move would change his life forever.
Playing as an attacking midfielder in the tournament, Kito caught the attention of Mughato Aye, a professional coach and a talent spotter, associated with Youth Resources, Government of Nagaland. “These community league tournaments are a breeding ground for young talent. Kito was the standout player in the tournament last year. The immediate thing you notice about him was his game sense,” Mughato says.
Mughato then contacted Kito’s parents and got him admitted to the GreenWood School — a prestigious private-run school in Dimapur under the sports quota. Here, Kito honed his skills and also got access to all the sporting equipment and facilities that Greenwood had to offer.
A year in Greenwood has made Kito a more confident player, reckons coach Mughato. In Delhi, representing his school in the Subroto Cup, Kito has already made an impact in the U-14 leg, scoring 11 goals in 5 games and helped his team reach the finals. “Kito is the key player in the midfield for us. He has scored at crucial junctures and his assists have also created opportunities for others to score. Going into the finals, he will be the player to watch out for,” Mughato says.
Outside football, Kito does not have that many interests, except watching the odd Ranbir Kapoor films. “I liked him in Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahani,” he says. Going forward, he wants to represent his state at the national level and also hopes to represent India at the U-17 World Cup in three years’ time. NCC triumph NCC from North Eastern Region defeated Mata Rukmani Kanya Ashram (Chhattisgarh) 3-0 while Carmel Girls High School (Jharkhand) downed St Augustine High School (Maharashtra) 3-0 in the Under-17 Girls section as the two teams entered the quarterfinals of the 55th Subroto Football Tournament on Monday.
In the first quarterfinal to be played on October 1, Jharkhand will take on NCC and in the second it will be between Meghalaya and Haryana. The NCC team brooked no challenge from Mata Rukmani as the latter’s girls were more keen on guarding their citadel than attempting to score against their NCC rivals at the NWC ground.
On the other hand, NCC pressed hard right from the word go and the thrust provided enabled them strike as early as in the sixth minute through S. Teji Bala. Three minutes later, it was Baby Sana who increased the lead before the teams went for break. After changing ends, Teji Bala netted a goal seven minutes from end to seal the fate of Chhattisgarh.
Similarly, the Carmel school girls too did not face any resistance from their Maharashtra opponents. In fact, the Jharkhand girls took things rather easily and toyed with their rivals in a manner that they could strike at will.
Nevertheless, they had to wait for their first goal until the 17th minute when Mamta Kumari found the net. Ten minutes later she completed her brace. In the second half the Carmel girls could strike only once through Sandhya who made most of a cross from the right in the 48 th minute. For the remaining period, the teams played for time even as Maharashtra waited for the ordeal to come to an end.