| A view of the ground at Betkuchi High School. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Oct. 10: It is going to be a battle of the Northeast when Assam’s Betkuchi High School and Mizoram’s Chawfianga Government Middle School, Kolasib meet in the final of the under-14 Subroto Cup at B.R. Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi tomorrow.
The final has generated a lot of excitement because both teams are from the region and both have an opportunity to script their own little bit of footballing history by winning a national crown.
Kokrajhar Higher Secondary School and Arya Vidyapith High School, Guwahati had won the tournament in 1986 and 1992 respectively. The Kokrajhar school had also finished runners-up in 1999.
Compared to the lesser known Betkuchi school in Guwahati, the Mizoram school, with barely 150 students till Class VI on their rolls, is a force to reckon with at the state level, having been crowned four-time junior champions on the trot. They are also champions in athletics and volleyball. The school headmaster, James Lalthlamuana, is also popular name in sporting circles.
In contrast, Betkuchi neither has a sporting background nor the facilities like most government schools in Assam but won two back-to-back meets (Pilik Choudhury as well as the Airtel Rising Star) before embarking on their Subroto Cup campaign.
Moreover, its students are mostly from disadvantaged groups, something which makes their journey to the final even more laudable.
The Guwahati school has a ground, but it is unplayable due to lack of maintenance. Playing there is also risky because of overhead power lines. The school also lacks an auditorium for indoor sports.
An elated Betkuchi High School headmistress Arati Goswami told The Telegraph: “We couldn’t provide them with anything. Despite that, they have made it to the final, which is really incredible. Hopefully, after this, the government will take steps to provide us with basic facilities to groom these talented boys. We will approach the government once the team is back, win or lose. Everyone is really excited and wants to watch the team in action. Our physical training instructor Manoj Sarma has played a key role and I thank him for the initiative.”
She went on to add, “Most of our guardians are not financially strong and are unaware about school activities.”Like the Guwahati school, the mood in Kolasib is upbeat.
Former Assam footballer Gilbertson Sangma said: “I wish them success. It is a bigger achievement because they don’t even have a proper ground. After this, if they need any kind of assistance from me, I will be pleased to help them. I would also request the government to look into their problems.”
Recalling the journey so far, Atul Choudhury, a senior teacher of Betkuchi School, said: “The team started practising from September 4 to 24 at Sarusajai sports complex under the guidance of Ansai Brahma.”