Amidst India's persistent fascination with cricket, with the sport being elevated to the status of a separate religion altogether, there have not been many instances of other sports rising to prominence. Football, however, is popular in Kerala, Karnataka, the seven sisters of the North East, and a few other states in India. Mizoram came into the limelight after the state won the Santosh Trophy in 2014. Mizoram even has its own premier league. The roots go deep in the state with respect to players and popularity in football. The capital city of Mizoram, Aizawl, has its own club 'Aizawl FC', which qualified for the I-league, the country's premier football league, in 2015.
A local Mizoram boy, 15-year-old Lalchungnunga, has now been selected for training at the German Bundelsinga, and the player who has been nicknamed Mizo Messi is now praised all over the locality. The duration of his training is going to be six years.
Here's a video on the young star:
Lalchungnunga comes from a poor family, and his father is a daily wage labourer. He has five other siblings, and the family struggles hard to make ends meet. His father almost gave up on his dream of watching his son become a football player. But now, he is really glad, for he thought it was impossible to push his son towards his interest.
Lalchungnunga started playing football when he was around nine, and he hasn't stopped since. The boy says that he admired ace footballer Lionel Messi, who has also come from a poor background and made it big. Lalchungnunga's father says that he never knew how his son played football since he was away, working at the farm; he got to know of his son's passion through his friends. It was only after Lalchungnunga won the 'Most promising player' award in the under-13 football tournament in Lunglei that his father realised what his son could achieve.
Mizoram has had a rich history of producing top-class football players like Jerry Zirsanga and Shylo Malsawmtuluanga. Famous Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and Lalrindika Ralte, who plays for the clubs East Bengal and Atletico de Kolkata, are also from Mizoram. Keeping in mind the stunning footballing talent in the state, it seems safe to say that we can expect great things from young Lalchungnunga.