The Morung Express

Football with a mission: Roko Angami

Roko Angami, International AFC License Holder Coach and Player.


KOHIMA, September 8 (NEPS): As other parts of the world, the Naga people in this tiny State, Nagaland love football. Literally, one will find a local ground in every village in the State and this they will not only use for other villager activities but also for football tournaments – be it village level or inter-village level or village-school level. There is no dearth of football fans even in the far-flung areas. In fact, the football is one of the most popular games in the State.


No surprise that Dr. T Ao was the first Naga Olympian who captained the Indian Football Team of the Independent India in the 1948 London Olympics.


Over the years, many talented Naga footballers came and gone. Yet the spirt of this beautiful game lives on.


Here is another young Naga footballer who rose from a villager player to international player. He is Roko Angami who follows in legendary Naga footballer Dr. Ao’s footsteps.


“I always adorn Dr. T Ao whenever I touched football in my life,” Angami told NEPS. “He left indelible memories and actions in the history of football in India and Nagaland as well.”


Hailing from Zhadima Village under Kohima District, Angami started his football career from his early age. His football talents and skills had been noticed when he was playing football in the village. “Destiny did its part for me when I was awarded the best player in the soccer tournaments held in my Zhadima Village during my younger days,” he narrated. “This award triggered my ambition and passion for further pursuing higher levels of the football. In fact, that set the beginning of my football journey.”


Anagmi never looked back and continued pursuing to fulfil his dreams. When he was 16 years old, he joined the SAI at Dimapur in 1991. Soon after that, he started playing in the State, Regional, National and International levels representing the State and the country, bringing laurels to the country and the State as well.


He played in All India SAI Sports Meet at Darjeeling, Siliguri and Cuttack from 1991 to 1993; Indian Junior Team (U-16) in Israel (1994); Young Amateur Club, Guwahati (1994); Santosh Trophy, Manipur (1995); Center of Excellence Team, India (1994-95); All India Police Meet, Sikkim (1994-1995); Mahindra & Mahindra United, Mumbai (1996-97); First Indian National League, India (1996-97); Federation Cup, Bangalore (1996); Rovers Club, Mumbai (1996); Maharashtra State National Team (U-21), Kolkata (1996) and became Champion; All India Forest Football Championship, Bhubaneshwar (1997) and became Champion; Nagaland State Team (1990-1998); North East India Sports Meet in Tripura (2005) and became Runners-up; North East India Sports Meet, Guwahati (2006) and became Runners-up; and also represented Nagaland State for fourteen times in various Regional and National soccer tournaments.


His passion and determination to groom young Naga footballers grew stronger and stronger when he was playing footballs and representing the Mahindra United Club, Mumbai.


“After almost a decade of playing with national teams and clubs including the Mahindra United Clubs, Mumbai, I came here with great dreams to develop soccer and mold young Naga talents in Nagaland,” Angami shared. “It was with this vision that I founded the Naga Boys Club in the year 1999.”


The Naga footballer took the initiative of training the young Naga soccer players. “I am proud to mention that we have more than 1000 soccer players registered so far under my coaching scheme,” he added.


He also toured the entire State for free football coaching camps under the banner – “Football for Peace” – with an aim to train and mold young Nagas. Under the banner of the Naga Boys Club, they also organized cleanliness drives in the State Capital, Kohima. This apart, they also organized “Peace rallies and banner campaigns” joining the “peoples’ cry for Peace and Reconciliation in Nagaland.”


It is remarkable that he became International License Holder Football Coach today. He is AFC (Asian Football Confederation) ‘C” & “B” License Holder, besides AFC “A” (Pro) Appear.


He also attended Fifa Program for Youth Development Training from German Football Expert, Mr. Torstein Spitteler in 2005; ISLT Course at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2005 and Kids Games Introductory Training Course in Malaysia in 2005.


He is Chief Coach of the Naga Boys Club since 1999 till date and also Coach of Nagaland Football Association since 2000 till date.


The Naga footballer also received awards for his outstanding achievements in the field of soccer. “My joy knew no bounds and I was also greatly humbled when I was awarded ‘International Footballer’ by Paul Moses of International Sports Coalition at the ‘Nights of Stars’ on 5th November 2004 at Dimapur,” he narrated. He was also nominated for the PADMA Shree Award in 2010 by the State Government.


Speaking about his future soccer plans, Angami said he would continue to “nurture and mold talents” in the fundamentals of soccer primarily targeting the younger generations to train them in the strict sense of professionalism.


He wanted to set up a formidable soccer club in the State as their young Naga footballers continue to excel over the years and they needed to have a club well-equipped with modern facilities.


“Young Naga soccer players must be disciplined with the rules of the soccer games. The standard of the soccer must not be compromised under any circumstances towards this end,” he said and further shared about his primary objective that must have an “institutionalized club” where all “skills can be developed.”


Today, it is only felt that the spirt of Dr. T Ao lives on, and Angami continues to invigorate the spirt into the young Naga footballers. “For the love of the game, I continue to walk in the fields,” he added. “Today, the football is my mission.”