Former national-level Football player from Manipur has now captured the State by becoming its new Chief Minister. At the same time, Manipur has become the cynosure of all eyes with 4 Manipur players gaining a place in the Indian National Football Team.
A national-level football-player-turned journalist Biren Singh was key member of the Congress Party when he decided to join BJP in October 2016, after his relationship with the then Chief Minister of Congress, Okram Ibobi Singh got strained. Congress managed to survive the Government at that point in time but Biren Singh left the Congress to join BJP and emerged victorious by gaining a thumping victory. The BJP now claim to have 32 MLAs on its side in the 60-member Manipur Assembly.
Biren Singh, who was sworn in as Manipur CM earlier today was 18 years old when he was spotted by Border Security Force (BSF) officials during a football match in Manipur capital Imphal. He joined the BSF team and was the first Manipuri footballer to play outside the state. He was part of the BSF team that won the Durand Cup defeating Kolkata team Mohun Bagan in 1981. Later, he quit the BSF team a year later in 1982, but played football for 10 more years in the Manipur state team.
While former national player is at helm of affairs, Manipur’s football fraternity is feeling elated with the selection of 4 Manipur players among the 31 probables chosen for the national side. Four Manipur payers include Jackichand Singh, Seityasen Singh, Udanta Singh and Milan Singh (First time call up for National Team).
The players have assembled in Mumbai as per their commitments in the Hero I-League and the AFC Cup prior to their crucial Group A match against Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers UAE 2019. India are slated to play Myanmar in their first Group match in Yangon on March 28, 2017.
This goes on to further strengthen Manipur’s reputation as one of the best footballing state. The North Eastern state has been the nursery of Indian football despite the socio-political turmoil it has been witnessing unlike in other states. Nicknamed ‘the jewel of India, by India’s first PM, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the State has given some famous footballers like Renedy Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Kiran Khongsai, Somatai Saiza and many more. There is hardly any club in India where no player from Manipur plays – be it the I-league clubs or int he 2nd Division teams – Manipuris form backbone of most of these teams.