ITANAGAR: In a significant moment for Arunachal Pradesh’s sporting history, the coveted FIFA Santosh Trophy reached the state on February 1.
Showcasing the prestigious, golden-coloured trophy at the Arunachal Press Club, Kipa Ajay, the secretary of the Arunachal Pradesh Football Association (APFA), informed that the inaugural match of the tourney will begin on February 21 at the Golden Jubilee Outdoor Stadium in Yupia.
“In the opening match, host Arunachal Pradesh will be battling it out against Goa,” he told the press.
The trophy, a symbol of tradition and continuity, dates back to 1941 when the first-ever football tournament took place.
Astonishingly, it has remained unchanged, carrying the legacy of champions throughout the years, Ajay said.
Highlighting the significance of the upcoming tournament, Ajay revealed that 12 formidable teams would participate in the championship, which is being organised in the state for the first time in the tourney’s 77-year-old history.
A noteworthy twist to this year’s championship is the introduction of floodlit matches, promising a dazzling spectacle for football enthusiasts.
Ajay assured that preparations for the night games are in full swing, with practice sessions designated at key venues such as Rajiv Gandhi Stadium (Naharlagun), Sangey Lhaden Sports Academy (Itanagar), and the NERIST football ground (Nirjuli).
He further informed that the sale of tickets for the matches will be on sale online, ensuring a seamless experience for fans.
APFA vice president John Neelam shared insights into the meticulous selection process that brought the Arunachal team to its final 22 players.
Under the guidance of top-notch coaches, these players are currently honing their skills in a dedicated training camp, aiming to deliver an outstanding performance during the tournament.
APFA vice president Likha Tapu issued a spirited call to the people of Arunachal Pradesh, urging them to rally in large numbers and support their home team.
With the final round of the FIFA Santosh Trophy Championship making its way to Arunachal Pradesh, the state is poised to make history as the first in the Northeast to host this prestigious event.