Foundation for state football academy laid

CM assures to revive NPL, calls for sustaining competitive sports events

Morung Express News
Dimapur | June 8

Construction of a long awaited football academy in honour of the late Dr. T. Ao is set to begin. The foundation stone for the Dr. T. Ao Regional Football Academy was laid on June 8 by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio at Seithekema ‘C’, Dimapur.   On the drawing board for nearly 10 years, the academy will take shape in a few years time if all goes well.  

Addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony today at the site, CM Rio said that it is the realisation of a long held wish to leave an impression of Dr. T. Ao’s legacy for posterity, in particular the upcoming generation. The Naga football legend’s family were also in attendance.  

Projected to cost an estimated Rs. 100cr, the works will start with an initial grant of Rs. 13cr from the North Eastern Council (NEC). Rio said that the Tata Trust has also promised to aid the project with a sanction of Rs. 15cr. The academy will cover a sprawling 46 acres of land and is situated adjacent to the now under-construction NH 29 diversion 4-lane project. The original area demarcated was around 16 acres. It was expanded after the IT department donated land in the vicinity, Rio added.  

The plan for the academy was set rolling back in 2011. According to Rio, this was the result of several interactions he had with elders from different communities that time. During once such interaction, he recalled former Lok Sabha Member from Nagaland Imchalemba tabling the idea of the state government doing something concrete in honour of the football legend.  

The year before, in 2010, Nagaland had also successfully hosted the first North East Dr. T. Ao Football Tournament in Dimapur.  

The NEC was said to have agreed in principle to fund the project when the state government first approached the council in 2011.  

“There was a gap however when I went to Parliament,” he said. Stating that the intervening period saw 3 DPRs which never materialised, Rio said that in March this year, the government revived the plan and approached the NEC for aid.  

While expressing hope that Dr. T. Ao will continue to inspire the youth, he said, “Youth-related activities have been discontinued for some time. We are going to revive all that.”  

Earlier, Atuo Mezhur, president of the Nagaland Football Association reminded that Nagaland is the only state in the North East without a football academy. Stating that the building of an academy holds promise, he called for greater governmental support towards sports. He further called for reviving the discontinued Dr. T. Ao Inter-District Football Tournament and the short-lived Nagaland Premier League.  

Assuring to revive the NPL through governmental assistance, Rio said that the state should consistently organise competitive football events. With regard to the completion time of the academy, he said that he would want it completed at the shortest possible time without providing any timeframe.