One of India’s first major mixed-gender Futsal tournament, North East Futsal League (NEFL), has started at the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium, at the Sarusajai Sports Complex in Guwahati from August 25.
NEFL will feature six teams and will be played over a period of seven days till August 31.
The teams are Assam Titans, Meghalaya Thunders, Nagaland Super 5, Apunba Manipur, Arunachal Highlanders and Mizo Falcons. Assam played against Nagaland during the inaugural match.
In the inaugural match between Assam Titans and Nagaland Super 5, the Assam team won by 5-1. Nagaland made a good start by scoring the 1st goal by their captain Nyithong Magh in less than 3 minutes from a direct free kick but Assam Titans made a great comeback by scoring two goals coming from Aklanta Basu and Carlos Anotio by half time. In the 2nd half Manoj Chetry of Assam scored a hatrick and took Assam to a comprehensive win.
Speaking about the format, Ranajit Mahanta of Proclivity Sports and Recreation Pvt Ltd, the organizer of the event, said that each of the six teams will consist of eight players in the squad with one coach or player and one manager, with only one female player in the pitch during the play. “A minimum of three female players and five male players including two international players (one female and one male) will be a part of each squad,” he added.
The matches will be played in the 2×15 minute halves-format with each team changing their ends once the half-time rolls.
The champion team will receive Rs 5 lakh and the cash award for the runners-up team is Rs 2.5 lakh.
Foreign players are allotted to all the teams through draws. Accordingly Assam Titans has Paula Rubio Fernandez and Carlos Antonio (Spain), Meghalaya Thunders has Ariana Martos Romero (Spain) and Francis Onyeama (Nigeria), Nagaland Super 5 has Patricia Ballesteros Bermero and Alex Rubio Carretero (Spain), Apunba Manipur has Joana Garcia Duran (Spain) and Henry Opara (Nigeria), Arunachal Highlanders has Paula Boza Gil (Spain) and Mario Navarro Penalver (Spain), Mizo Falcons has Jessica Pastor Carreno (Spain) and Michael Okwudili (Nigeria).
Sayantan Chowdhury who played in UEFA Futsal Championship for Nottingham is leading Assam Titans. Chowdhury who originally hails from Assam is excited to be a part of the NEFL.
“I’m looking forward to this tournament. I have played all male tournaments but this is for the first time a mixed gender. It’s really about bridging the social gap. So, I’m really excited to see how it impacts in the society,” Sayantan told The News Mill.
“The first of its kind tournament in Northeast India is being organised with an aim to provide a platform for the budding footballers of the region to showcase their talent and also to rub shoulder with players from other parts of the world,” says Warren Noronha, marketing manager of NEFL.