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NE the future powerhouse of Indian football

Former professional football player from Nigeria and now coach of Sangpang FC, Chima Okorie gestures to the players during a practice session at the Assam Rifles Ground on Friday, February 17, 2012. (Sashi Jamir Photos)

Mokokchung, February 17 (MExN): Perhaps it’s a change of wind in the Nagaland football scenario especially with the proposed Nagaland Premiere League tentatively scheduled to kick off from the end of this month. Almost everyone is talking something about football and this small town of Nagaland a Nigerian football coach Chima Okorie is coaching a local club day and night for the past few days preparing them for the NPL season.
Forty-five year old Chima Okorie, a Nigerian former professional football striker who was renowned for his goalscoring prowess in the Indian leagues, had played for the Mohammedan SC, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
He arrived on February 13 from Kolkata with his friend Swati Chaudhury (from the NGO - Hridaya Family) to coach the Sangpang FC players for two weeks.
The unassuming Chima Okorie, while interacting with media-persons at Café Cityville, expressed deep satisfaction on the young players that he is coaching at present.
However, while lamenting the lack of exposure for the Naga players, Okorie however expressed hope that with the NPL would help in creating a platform for the Naga players to shine in the national and even international arena. He expressed optimism that age is on the side of the young players and added that the talent and passion on the players would surely take them to greater heights.
Besides, he also said that North East is the future powerhouse of Indian football and asserted that the future of Indian football would be determined by Northeast. He also asserted that if India should have a national team, then the maximum number of players should be from the northeastern states.
“Some of the best players I have played with and played against in India are those players from the northeast India. Indian football should start from the northeast,” said Chima Okorie, “If India had to play in the World Cup (FIFA), northeast players have to play a major role.”
When queried on the sports infrastructure, Chima Okorie simply stated that the players needed better grounds, but he retorted that he ‘can’t be bothered’ because as long as there is an empty space, then people can go there and play.  Nonetheless, he expressed his deep hope that through football the young talented players would find a profession in life and make a mark in the society. He strongly asserted that football is one very important means which can mould a disciplined life for the young players, and make them into responsible citizens of the society.
However, he maintained that a good footballer needs to have the qualities of discipline, dedication, respect (for self and others), ability to listen and knowing who the ‘self’ is.
“Darkness has gone, light has come. Football is a profession…make your talents come,” he encouraged the young aspiring players in the state. Sangpang FC owners disclosed that Chima Okorie would be moving between the states of Nagaland and West Bengal and coach the Sangpang FC players on regular intervals.
It may be noted here that Sangpang FC is one of the two clubs from Mokokchung district which will be playing in the NPL season this year. The other club from the district is Zonipang FC, the winner of the MFDA Trophy 2011.

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