Manipur: SAFF U-16 winning Blue Colts captain despite home loss aims for peace in the state

Manipur: SAFF U-16 winning Blue Colts captain despite home loss aims for peace in the state

Ngamgouhou Mate, the proud captain of the Indian football team that clinched the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Under-16 Championship, returned home to strife-torn Manipur's Tengnoupal District with an unusual and heart-wrenching situation. Instead of being welcomed to his own home, Mate and his family found themselves in a relief camp in Kangpokpi District, as their residence in Khongsai Veng, Imphal, had been destroyed during the initial stages of ethnic violence.

Despite the adversity and having "no home to stay," the young Indian captain remains focused on the pursuit of peace in Manipur.

Mate, along with two other talented footballers from the Kuki community, Vumlenlal Hangshing and Levis Jangminlun Haokip, represented India in the 8th edition of the SAFF U-16 Championship held in Thimphu, Bhutan. The trio's exceptional performance earned them the defending champion title for the fifth time.

In recognition of their achievements, the Kuki Students Organization Sadar Hills organized a reception ceremony for the Blue Colts Captain and the two players from the Kuki community. The event took place at the KSO Sadar Hills Administrative Office building, attended by the Kuki Inpi Manipur.

During the reception, community leaders expressed their appreciation for the young footballers, who, despite challenging circumstances, brought fame and honor to the country.

Ch. Ajang Khongsai, President of Kuki Inpi Manipur, commended the players and encouraged them to maintain good moral character, discipline, and healthy habits that will contribute to their future success and the betterment of their community.

Vumlenlal Hangshing, a left-back player, described their achievement as a collective effort that transcended ethnic differences, fostering unity among the players from diverse backgrounds. He emphasized that only football could bridge such divides and expressed hope that their victory could contribute to peace in Manipur.

Both Ngamgouhou Mate and Vumlenlal Hangshing extended their gratitude to former Indian footballer Reneddy Singh, who believed in them and provided the opportunity to participate in the selection trials.

The Indian team captain, Ngamgouhou Mate, offered thanks to the Almighty and acknowledged the role of good health, the coach and staff's wisdom, and the unity among players and staff in securing the prestigious title. While refraining from discussing the ongoing violence in Manipur, Mate expressed his personal aspiration for peace in the state.

Thangtinlen Haokip, General Secretary of KSO Sadar Hills, expressed regret that the Blue Colts Captain had to reside in a relief camp due to the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur. He called on the authorities, both at the Centre and the State Government, to address the Indian Captain's situation.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Ngamgouhou Mate, who has five siblings, remains committed to pursuing peace in Manipur, standing as a beacon of hope and unity in the face of adversity.