Sunday, August 26, 2007

Indian regional club aims for national respect

India's north-east states like Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland have provided many footballers to the senior and junor national teams but do not host a major league football club. However Lajong SS&CC from Meghalaya has come close to achieving promotion to the Division One of the NFL and is looking to develop to generate more interest among fans as well as corporates. The club is professionally managed and receives private funding from Shillong-based Centre Point Group.

“It’s been a tough road, yet we have managed to achieve our targets,” Larsing M, Vice President of the 25-year-old club, told Aabhas Sharma of the Business Standard. "The initial idea was to make the club big enough, first in the region and then take it to the national level. Lajong has done the initial part and is now on the cusp of the latter stage."

Coach Herring Shangpliang knows that this is the right time for the club to announce its arrival on the national stage in a big way. “Last season, we came close to clinching promotion to compete with the big boys of Indian football and the aim is to be there in the next two years.” Shangpliang, who is one of the few coaches in India to have the AFC pro coaching licence, is happy with the talent at his disposal and is keen to harness more youngsters in his scheme of things. “That old cliche, nothing succeeds like talent and hard work, is true in our case,” he said.

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