Nagaon, Oct. 8: The ninth Chief Executive Member Cup football tournament is going to be a northeastern affair once again, with 21 teams from different parts of the region participating in the flagship event of the Dima Hasao Sports Association’s N.L. Daulogupu sports complex at Haflong from October 20.
Altogether six home teams, seven teams from neighbouring districts of Nagaon, Karbi Anglong and Cachar and eight from other northeastern states have confirmed participation in the tournament this year.
Dima Hasao Sports Association general secretary Thai-Tsho Daolagupu said talks with the other significant northeastern teams were still going on as the association plans to make the tournament bigger.
“Holders 119 Territorial Army have confirmed participation but last edition’s runners-up Morning Star Football Club, Diphu have refused. Other teams like Kokborok FC (Tripura), Youth Organisation Sporting Club (Manipur), Bethlehem FC (Mizoram) are participating,” Daolagupu said.
The six home teams who are participating in the tournament include Heaven Blue Athletic Club, Waimijing Club, Evergreen Club, Kukithan FC, Sngi Lumlang Club and Panglom Youth Club.
Former champions Evergreen Club will meet Kukithan in the inaugural match on October 20.
All the matches will kick-off at 4.30pm and will be played under floodlights. Dima Hasao Autonomous Council chief executive member Debojeet Thaosen will participate in the inaugural ceremony as special guest.
The two semi-final matches will be played on November 7 and November 8 and the final on November 10.
“We used floodlights experimentally last year and that was basically a temporary arrangement. This time, permanent installation of floodlights is on and hopefully, it will complete in a week’s time,” Daolagupu said.
The biggest football tournament of the hill district of Assam was introduced in 1996.
It was suspended for a couple of years because of law and order situation in Dima Hasao district and restarted in 2010.
“The improved law and order situation in the district has encouraged teams from outside the two hills districts of Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong to join the tournament. We had planned to invite teams from neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan this year but shelved it for the time being due to some technical constraints,” said a Dima Hasao Sports Association senior executive member Moushum Daolagupu.
Daolagupu said some cultural items reflecting the culture of the ethnic tribes will be showcased on the final day of the tournament.
“We have the plan to promote the CEM Cup tournament as a biggest sports and socio-cultural event of Dima Hasao,” he said.