TURA, Sept 05: For many outside Tura, ‘Forever Young’ will evoke images of the popular cloth merchandise brand. But for football fans of Garo hills, it is a unique tournament held for the past two decades to bringing together the footballers of yesteryears.
The 35 plus Football Tournament 2016 is being participated by 15 teams including the defending champion Rongkhon Sports Association after the tournament began its journey in 1995 and is being held every year.
It was initially conceptualized by a group of sports enthusiasts, and is presently being organised by the District Football Association (DFA), Tura.
The series gives an opportunity for 35 plus age footballers to take part in a football league – knock out series.
Though the tournament doesn’t offer big money as cash prize, the footballers of yesteryears play the game with its spirit to display their skills and expertise.
The tournament is liked by young footballers as they converge at the venue to witness the veterans giving it a shot.
The tournament gives the young footballers an opportunity to interact with veterans, who despite their age continue to engage in the spirit of the game, inspiring and motivating the younger generation.
This year, the tournament kicked off on August 25 and the final match will be played on September 17.
The organisers are upbeat and are confident that in near future the tournament will be leveraged.
“The tournament gives a great opportunity for youngsters to engage with the veterans, who despite their age have kept the spirit of football in themselves alive”, said the joint secretary of DFA, Newtone Sangma.
The sports department is happy that the organisers have been conducting the tournament for the past 21 years without fail.
“It is worth supporting this type of competition amongst the players of yesteryears as it is healthy and exemplary”, said the District Sports Officer, West Garo Hills, Jasper Marak who is also the president of DFA.
Renowned Orthopedic Surgeon Chesterfield Marak, who is one of the participants in the tournament, thanked the organisers for holding the event.
He said, “Football is one of the best form of sports for physical fitness”. He advised sports lovers with cardio pulmonary illness to avoid the game.
Former legislator and a legendary football player Billikid A. Sangma is of the view that the tournament has grown over the years.
“The spirit and enthusiasm has tremendously improved. The players are taking the tournament seriously. In the years to come, the tournament will be one of the best events held in Tura”, he remarked.
Meanwhile, a retired government servant and a former member of district council, Luxley Robinhood Momin recalled the craze of football, which existed in the past and present in Garo hills.
Momin feels that adequate support and infrastructure facilities should be provided to hone football talents of Garo hills.