The Telegraph
Monday , August 11 , 2014
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Ex-footballers seek better days

Guwahati, Aug. 10: Former players and fanatics organised a convention here yesterday in a bid to revive the golden days of Assam football.

The convention featured the likes of Arjuna awardee Bhogeswar Baruah and eminent Assamese writer Homen Borgohain, along with several former international footballers.

“It hurts me when I see a state like Mizoram win the Santosh Trophy and we fail to put up a similar performance. We should start developing the team immediately with young and talented footballers. I feel if we provide proper facilities, we can certainly expect good results in the coming days,” said former international footballer Gilbertson Sangma.

Several draft proposals were accepted in the convention, including the development of football grounds, good coaching facilities, making football mandatory in schools, implementation of sports policy, hike in sports pension and insurance of football players. Most speakers said the implementation of time-bound plans is the lone solution.

Former footballer Ramesh Phukan lamented the deterioration of the standard of the game. “There is no doubt that the standard of our football has gone down. We can’t even compete against neighbouring states like Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya. I hope this convention will provide some ideas and advice to bring back the lost glory of Assam football,” he said.

Another former player, Abdul Latif, spoke of the lacklustre attitude of the organisers as well as the state government. “The time has come to change the mindset of organisers. Assam cricketers now travel by air to play national tournaments. But our footballers still travel by second class in trains. Which parents would send their children to play football?” he asked.

Chief guest Homen Borgohain said, “Football is the only sport through which Assam can move ahead. We know funds are an important factor. But I can assure you from my experience that collecting funds is not a difficult job if you have the will and want to go ahead with a positive attitude. All that is required is sincere effort from organisers.”

Jatin Borchetia, deputy director, sports and youth welfare department, revealed Dispur’s plan to set up a football-training centre. Other international footballers present included Toshen Bora, Debasish Roy and Jewel Bey.