Aizawl, March 11: The football-crazy state of Mizoram, which erupted in euphoria on Sunday night when its football team clinched the coveted Santosh Trophy for the first time, is now preparing to give a rousing welcome to their heroes.
The Mizoram squad, led my manager Lalbiakzuala and coach H. Vanlalthlanga, is scheduled to arrive at Lengpui airport tomorrow, where they will be accorded a warm welcome by the Mizoram Football Association, sports department officials and fans. Later, a felicitation ceremony will be held at Assam Rifles ground here to celebrate the achievement.
“Preparations are on in full swing to accord the football champions a hero’s welcome,” secretary of the football association, Lalnghinglova Hmar, said.
The Mizoram government is yet to announce any cash rewards for the squad members but has declared Wednesday a state holiday.
Governor V. Purushothaman was the first of the state top brass to congratulate the squad. “This achievement has placed Mizoram at a very high level in the national sporting scene and has amply demonstrated the power of its youth. I am confident this will be a harbinger of many more such achievements in the future,” the governor said in a statement.
“The state has placed its trust in the youth of Mizoram and looks optimistically to the fulfilment of its Olympic Vision, 2016,” he added. The governor will also host high tea for the team on Thursday.
Sports minister Zodintluanga said, “I am extremely happy that Mizoram football has scaled such a great height. This achievement must be credited to the concerted efforts of all sports department officials, the football association and the hardworking team members,” he said.
“We had thrown a challenge to the Mizoram youths by providing world-class infrastructure. Our footballers have responded to the challenge,” Zodintluanga said.
The sports department has laid world-class artificial turf in three football grounds in Mizoram — two at Aizawl and one at Lunglei. Efforts are on to lay astroturf at some more grounds.