Chawnpui FC: Start of a new chapter in Mizoram football through RFDL
The club President has outlined the aims of the club.
After three months of gruesome football, Chawnpui FC and Chanmari FC have qualified for the national group stage of RFDL (Reliance Foundation Developmental League) from the Mizoram Region. Six teams (Chawnpui FC, Chanmari FC, Ramthar Veng FC, SYS FC, 1st Bn. MAP Academy and Chanmari West FC) participated in the RFDL regional qualifiers held in Mizoram.
Chawnpui FC eclipsed rivals Chanmari FC to claim the top spot with 20 points and by virtue of goal difference. In 2022, only the ISL clubs took part in the league but from this year the league has spread to several regions and Mizoram is one of the football hotspots in India.
H. Lalrammawia, president of Chawnpui FC joined the club recently and has had a good tenure so far (winning the Mizoram Premier League and qualifying for the RFDL National group stages). Lalrammawia was the secretary of Dinthar FC in 2014, which won the inaugural edition of the (MPL) Mizoram Premier League. Jeje Lalpekhlua, fondly called Mizo Sniper, was a former player of Dinthar FC (during his teenage years).
Chawnpui FC has seen a good growth in the past few years in both the age group and senior levels. When asked on how Chawnpui FC is run financially, the President said, “The club is being run voluntarily and on local sponsorships with the main aim being to develop and promote players to higher leagues/divisions”.
The club President explained the quality of RFDL and said, “The quality of the league is very good. This time six teams participated in the RFDL league but none of us had enough time for preparation. In a short duration, all the teams have gathered and performed well and are putting in their good efforts. We have totally relied on the coach and the team officials for the performance and results. The coach (using his strategies) in a short span has brought in the best from the team.”
“From the next edition of RFDL regional qualifiers, we will get ourselves fully prepared a few months prior to the start of the league,” he added.
Lalrammawia explained the further plans and iterated, “After the RFDL, we will be taking part in the Mizoram Premier League in the coming months for which we need to recruit a few players. Few players from the current crop (U-21) will move outside and play in the I-League 2nd division (one player is currently part of Delhi FC). Alongside the RFDL, we are simultaneously playing in the U-18 Mizoram Premier League, which gives younger players good experience and game-time.”
“There are several local tournaments held across Mizoram (Inter Village and Inter District Football tournaments). Our coaches and support staff attend these leagues and select the prominent players. Inter Village and District tournaments are two prominent tournaments in Mizoram which produce raw talent. The players here have good football knowledge and if they are given good support from the beginning, then there are high chances for them to play professionally and at higher levels,” the President added.
Lalsangzuala Hmar, the current head coach of Chawnpui FC (AFC ‘B’ license) runs a private academy called Aizawl South Football Academy (ASFA) which is in partnership with Chawnpui FC. He has also led arch-rivals Chanmari FC in the Mizoram Premier League in the previous editions.
The coach said, on joining hands with Chawnpui FC, “I have many young players in my academy (below 21 years) and in Mizoram, MPL is the biggest league. I wanted my academy players to somehow participate in the league. So after discussions with my assistant coaches, we got into a partnership with Chawnpui FC.”
The head coach has always had high belief in the players and the team to perform well. In one of the important clashes against Chanmari FC in the group stages, Chawnpui FC were trailing 0-2 till the 75-minute mark. Chawnpui FC made a remarkable comeback scoring three quick goals to win the match. Hmar made a few brave calls which helped the team to strike balance and also score goals under pressure simultaneously.
He further iterated, “My only aim is to develop the players. I spend my own money to train players and if five players from the U-21 category get to play in the ISL, then it is my biggest achievement.”
MPL, a flagship tournament in Mizoram has produced several players to I-League and ISL clubs. Chawnpui FC, the reigning champions of Mizoram Premier League are gearing up to play in the upcoming edition, set to begin later this year after the conclusion of the RFDL national group stage.
The top two teams from the regional qualifiers (nine regions – 20 teams) will play in the National group stages (dates and venues yet to be announced) and the top four teams from group stages will play alongside clubs from the Premier League in the Next Gen Cup.
In 2022 only two teams (Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC) qualified for the Next Gen Cup. Sivasakthi Narayanan from Bengaluru FC had a successful stint last year in England and has now turned out to be a star player in the ISL (winning the Emerging Player Award in season 9).
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