Football tourney dating back to 100 years kicks off at Ukhrul

Ukhrul, Dec 5 :The Tangkhul Naga France Labor Corps Football Centenary (TNFLCFC) in commemoration of the 66th Labour Corps Football Team, France 1917 opened today with a grand ceremony at Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) Ground, Ukhrul.
Minister of Social Welfare & Cooperation, Nemcha Kipgen, the lone woman Minister of the State inaugurated the football tourney amid much fanfare. Expressing her gratitude on being a part of the historical event Kipgen said, “the historic Tangkhul Labour Corps (Football Team) which played in France in 1917 will definitely inspire not only the youth of the Tangkhul Naga community but all the youth of Manipur”.
The Minister emphasised that “football in particular and sports in general are catching up in a big way in the country as a very good source of livelihood” and added that Manipur as the sports powerhouse of India, should take full advantage of it.
The Minister also announced some schemes under Social Welfare and Cooperation Department, especially for persons with disability to sustain their livelihood through self employment.
The tournament, which will continue till December 18 is initiated by the Araang League with an aim to inspire more youth towards the game as well as to create a platform by bringing players and clubs from outside to exchange sports culture as well as bring unity among different communities.
Speaking to this reporter, general secretary of Tangkhul Naga France Labour Corps Committee, Peacemoon Zimik said that the objective of the commemoration is to remember the forefathers who went to France and played football in 1917, and added that this historical event should inspire youth and bring development to the game of football in the region.
He added that the commemoration is “a way of paying homage and showing respect to the legacy they have left behind. We wanted the youth to take football more seriously and professionally and think of it as a means of livelihood.” Zimik also emphasized that this kind of event would open more doors to clubs from outside to come and scout players from the region.
The opening ceremony saw exciting performances from different groups across genre.
Tangkhul elders performed a folk song accompanied by ‘Tingteila’ a traditional musical instrument. A folk fusion band Featherheads performed a short play on “dramatizing the socio-cultural activities and entertainment of the Tangkhul Naga Labor Corps in France”. The short but crisp play depicted how the Tangkhul natives were recruited to work for the French as labor corps. The opening match was played between RAU and Khuirei FC with RAU winning the lung opener by 1-0.
In all, 16 teams will compete for the champions tag carrying a prize tag of Rs five lakh. The tournament will be held at two venues – TNL Ground and Bakshi Mini Stadium, Hungpung.

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