Thimpu/September 11, 2023 (SPN) | In a truly remarkable display of unity and skill, young players from both the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur came together to represent India and secure victory in the SAFF U-16 Championship Final 2023 at Thimpu in Bhutan yesterday.
This achievement stands as a shining example, especially considering the backdrop of tensions and conflicts in Manipur, marked by clashes and armed confrontations between these two ethnic communities since May 3, 2023.
The final match featured a total of eleven players, beautifully highlighting the rich diversity of football talent in India. Among these remarkable players, six hailed from the Meitei community, each contributing their unique skills to the team.
Notable mentions include Aheibam Suraj Singh, the team’s goalkeeper, along with Karish Soram, Lairenjam Bharat, Ahongshangbam Samson, Yaipharemba Chingakham, and Usham Thoungamba Singh.
Representing the Kuki community were Ngamgouhou Mate, who also served as the team captain, and the exceptionally talented Levis Zangminlun.
Md Arbash is a Meitei Pangal and he got the best player of the tournament.
Suraj Singh got the best Goalkeeper Award in the SAFF U-16 Championship 2023.
The final match bore the aura of a Manipur team competing against Bangladesh, with both sides fiercely contesting every inch of the field. Ultimately, it was India that emerged victorious, clinching their fifth championship title in the SAFF U-16 Finals.
The game unfolded at the prestigious Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu, where India established an early lead in the 8th minute when Bharat Lairenjam netted a goal, assisted by the skilled Levis Zangminlun.
Later in the 73rd minute, it was Levis Zangminlun’s solo brilliance that added another goal to India’s tally. The Victory of SAFF U-16 Final match was a testament to the exceptional talent and unity displayed by the Meitei and Kuki players.
While tensions persisted off the field, with armed confrontations and challenges facing Manipur, the athletes demonstrated the power of sports to transcend divisions and unite communities for a common goal.