Although we are a cricket crazy nation but when it comes to that region of the country which is connected by the chicken’s neck(North east India), football is the sport that literally runs in our blood. This region boasts of producing players who have not only represented India but have also played for various international clubs. The bug to introduce and popularize this form of football had hit a team from Guwahati as well as Guwahati has got its first FIFA( Federation of Football Association) approved football turf to facilitate and promote this form of the game and they have named it ‘Game On Arena’ which is near the hockey stadium of Guwahati city.
However, this game has undergone various transitions just like t20 cricket, to keep up with the changing times and demands of the situation. Therefore an offshoot in the form of futsal has gained popularity off late. This shorter however finds its roots way back in Uruguay way back in the 1930s and the first FIFA tournament was held in 1989 in the Netherlands.
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The pundits have labeled it as a game-changer because Guwahati was already one of the Hosts in the U17 FIFA World Cup, and it is quite natural that a FIFA Futsal tournament shall be on the cards in the near future. Therefore, such an initiative could definitely be used as a ‘grassroots’ training ground which would help train young legs to adapt to this fast-paced format. Moreover, this is not just any other ordinary turf, it is a FIFA approved turf which automatically means that it has matched the set standards of quality and the various stages of accreditation which even includes laboratory test, safety test etc.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had proposed to conduct a National Futsal Club Championship in 2020, but due to the Covid 19 pandemic it had defer it’s plans. Apart from the benefits such as ensuring fast paced game, swifter players, the Futsal format is a preferable format as Corona is still there and due to the lesser ratio of players it should be much safer in terms of offering a ‘Bio-safe’ or offering a ‘Bubble’ contact.
Even parents who are often seen denying their children from playing football due to the rough shape it takes at times, will find it as a better alternative as the frequency of harsh/rough contact would be comparatively less.
Moreover, rather than always following a mundane trajectory of catching up with friends for coffee, movie etc this should come out as a breakaway and is a much healthier option to stay fit in today’s stressful lifestyle.
Previously various colleges or universities such as IIT Guwahati(Alcheringa), Assam Engineering college(Red Bull sponsored), Girijanada Institute of Technology have conducted tournaments of such nature on real surface grass which has a traditional bend.
But to prepare players for this international level tournament, a conducive environment is a prerequisite and that exactly adds to the ‘USP’ of the aforementioned ‘Game on Arena’ which not only boasts of a FIFA-approved turf but also offers state of the art infrastructure and proper lighting.
Lithuania is all set to host the 2021 Futsal tournament. Just like football it also has limitations regarding the number of participating teams. As of now 24 teams in total and 2 teams from Asia are selected. Hopefully, India would qualify and even go on to win such a tournament. This shall require dedication which is to be complemented by proper facilities and the Assam Football Association(AFA) should look at collaborating with the likes of ‘Game on Arena’ to usher in a new lease of life to the sport, which is an offshoot of the Game.
Details of the author- Prakreetish Sarma. He is currently practicing as an Advocate in Gauhati High Court, completed graduation in law from National Law University and Judicial Academy Assam. Interests are playing football, badminton, interested in cooking, discovering new places, and going trekking and into social work. He is a contributing writer for Inside Northeast.
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