We have Aizawl FC!

aizawl fc

While for many years, the Mizo people cheered at their TV screens from their living rooms, cheered in local neighbourhood fields for their pals, and in earlier years, kept their ears glued to the radio for sport updates, Mizoram now has Aizawl FC – the strong and mighty, the peoples club. 

 

A few decades back, the state was united because of the chaos created by outsiders – due to the state of ‘rambuai’, people had a reason to unite and fight. As years passed, freedom became too free and citizens were slowly getting wary of their identity, but the people’s club has brought a reason for the people to come together once again, to unite and fight, this times it’s a different fight – for one goal. The shopkeepers, the taxi drivers, the government officers, the journalists, the students, the daily wage labourers from the quarry, the beauticians, the gays, the heterosexuals, the singles, the married, the widowed and divorced, all become one in the stadium, standing involuntarily in the blink of a second when the football nears the goalpost of the red team. In the streets you are classified between the drunkards and the religious fanatics, the holy and the unholy, in the podium of Rajiv Gandhi stadium you are only one thing – a fan, and that’s all that matters for the next 90 minutes

 

The Mizoram Post asked a few spectators at the Aizawl FC vs. East Bengal Match on February 2 on what they enjoyed most about the game. Caroline Lalrosangi, a 23 year old fan said, “Firstly I love football and to be able to sit here with fellow Mizo’s rooting for one team is awesome. I almost teared up watching the people clapping together to the rhythm of the Aizawl FC song, the spirit was not just strong but also moving, causing an emotional nostalgia for the viewers,” she said.

 

Lalnunpuia had come all the way from Serchhip which is roughly around 4 to 5 hours from Aizawl city to watch the match, “That five hour ride was worth every minute, if possible I would come to Aizawl to watch every match. I’m a Manchester United fan and my sentiments get hurt when one speaks ill of the premier league club but having a club consisting of your very own people to support, the feeling is just really good,” he said.

 

I didn’t even know what a Mexican wave was, people were thrusting their hands up in the air so I just followed suit, it was a beautiful sight. Even when you looked around, there were people in every corner so fired up for a goal from the players, said Rinmuana, another spectator from among the Aizawl FC fans.

 

Even regarding cultural identity, the people of Mizoram are scattered all over India to seek greater chances at education and employment but at every corner of the country, the most common question posed to the Mizo is – Where is Mizoram, is that a part of China or is it around Nepal? To which one often has to proof with a map that Mizoram is indeed a state in India and has been so for the past thirty years. The ignorance of the people could owe to many reasons, one sadly being the Mizo people not making a mark enough to stand out and be heard in the nation’s ears. While there are educationists, social activists and well acclaimed musicians and leaders, they can also be found in most states of the country. But with football, its like Mizoram is saying – “Well here’s something that will get your attention folks!” Its like how Robert Downey Jr. said to Loki in the Avengers movies, “We have a hulk” in response to Loki’s “We have an army” warning, the Mizo people now can courageously say “We have the Aizawl FC” when anyone questions their identity in the country.

 

Aizawl FC has been on a winning streak this season and the number of people in the stands cheering for the team keeps increasing as the match on Monday had over ten thousand people all shouting for one goal from the team.  The club which is at No. 3 on the I-league table has played six times at home ground and won in 5 with one match being a draw. One could question, if this could be because it’s their training ground and it’s the altitude they are used to, or because there is power in the roaring cheer of the red flag holders echoing through the hills around Mualpui Stadium.

originally published in The Mizoram Post, February 22, 2017

picture from here

A call for awareness: Mizoram tangled in the web of Spa’s

The total number of job seekers recorded in the live register at the Employment Exchange of Mizoram is 36,047 as of June 2016. Out of these only 154 are unskilled with the rest being high school pass outs, graduates and experts at various lines. This figure only accounts for the registered unemployed, add to that the number of unregistered unemployed and one might be even more astonished. Taking these figures into view, it is of no surprise that middle school, high school pass outs and graduates who have no room to specialise in their skill areas go out of the state to earn their bread.

 

Lately, the leaders of the Mizo Welfare Association’s in the metropolitan cities have their hearts beating fast with any unknown number calling on their phone. This owes to the fact that atleast 9 Mizo’s have been arrested by the police in the past 5 months.  Nine Mizo youth who stepped out of the state’s boundaries looking to make a living in the metropolitan in hopes of supporting their folks back home. These youth which included graduates and high school pass outs were arrested under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 1956 citing punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution.

 

According to the preliminary findings by a doctorate student who is currently doing a research on Human Trafficking in Mizoram, the majority of the youth arrested had abstained from such illegal sexual acts but were nonetheless taken in police custody due to the negative reputation of the workplace. These youth are employed at day spas which unknown to them run illegal sexual activities, she said. In some unfortunate cases, youth are lured by the owners with money and other assurances even saying they will be assigned their own lawyers so it is advisable that young naive youth are not sent to cities to work unless they are mature enough to decide for themselves said the researcher. She said the majority of those employed are assumed to be from BPL families with them being the sole supporter of the family.

 

A certain Welfare Association leader in one such metropolitan said, I had to go to the court late at night as one of our members was in trouble and the judge questioned if I was helping them out because I was a pimp. While the associations are ready to help those facing hardships, the court proceedings are rather complex and once it turns into a court case, there is little that can be done. It is required that the relatives of these people appear at the judicial court with Identification documents.

 

The Social Welfare Department of Mizoram also take whatever steps they can to help get these youth out of trouble. An officer from the department said, while we are not hesitant to help, the process is rather long and by the time we can get them out of the vigilant home, sometimes they have spent more than 3 months in such home where around 80 people are made to share two bathrooms. The Social Welfare Department has to contact a recognised NGO in the city to meet with the victim and arrange the necessary papers and also, notify the court that the particular NGO is authorised to help the victim.

 

At this moment, it is hard to say how many people are going through such hardships. If they lose their job, they are questioned by family on why they cannot send money back home, and with little language skills or other specialisations, they are often at a disadvantage said the Social Welfare Department official. We advise all relatives to be sure on where their children are working, what is the manner of their work and other details, even their work timings. They should make sure the agency as well as the workplace is trust worthy, they said.

 

 

Recently a press release was made by the Chennai Mizo Welfare Association where they requested family and friends in Aizawl who have sent or are planning to send their children, friends or relatives to the city to have a proper knowledge of their workplace and whereabouts. They stated that it is advisable for those planning to work in spa or massage parlours to have a proper training certificate. It is also important that their workplace has proper registration and license stating that it is a government approved place. The Mizo public are advised to get in touch with the Social Welfare Department regarding the license and registration of such parlours and shops before they answer the call to the workplace.