Shillong, Apr 27: The Meghalaya Football Association felicitated the state’s football team that took part in the U-21 Dr T Ao Football Tournament, where they finished as runners-up.

The tournament was held in Guwahati in February. The Meghalaya boys gave it their all in the final, but were bested by Mizoram 3-1 in a tiebreaker after full time ended 1-1.

Not all the players in the team were available for the function, but those who could make it were felicitated by MFA CEO Arki Nongrum and members of the MFA’s youth development cell.

“From the U-15 level we’ve seen you grow as footballers,” Sunesh Syiem said. “You should have a lot of pride in yourselves that you are playing for the state. But you should also remain humble. Look at the top players in the world, like Messi and Ronaldo, and you’ll find that they are still humble. From T Ao you’ll have the opportunity to play in bigger tournaments. This was a benchmark, a platform for you.”

Though not every youngster who wants to be a footballer can turn professional, good results at the state level can open up avenues for government jobs through the sports quota, he added.

“The final was unlucky for you guys where you dominated the second half. I thank the youth development cell and all the coaches – Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet, Rohit Nongspung and Jeff Warlarpih,” Nongrum said. “We want to organise a workshop for the standout young players with Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Redeem Tlang and Aiborlang Khongjee and I encourage you to give back something to your state, by volunteering in the Baby League, for example.”

Finally, Ailad Kynta encouraged the players to have personal discipline, which is not just on the pitch, but off it as well.

“Many serious injuries come about because players don’t practise regularly. You need to keep yourselves fit all the time,” Kynta said. “When the Shillong Premier League starts again you should not approach it by only thinking of your club – you need to have a bigger picture of where you want this tournament to lead to for you.”

All the players were presented with a certificate, medal and cash award.

Meghalaya squad: Denzil Warjri, Mediphrangki Pohleng, Ronald Lyngdoh Nonglait, Frolicson Dkhar, Rajat Paul Lyngdoh, Wilbert O Marbaniang, Baiaikara Swer, Robert Khongjoh, Rickyson Makdoh, Figo Syndai, Wadskhem Marbaniang, Kitboklang Khyriem, Batskhem Thangkhiew, Pyndapborlang Kharmawphlang, Shaibor Nongrum, Belton Lartang, Chanmitre Tham, Wanbok Lyngkhoi, Rheadolf Nongneng Daloi

Officials: Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet (coach), Jeffrey Warlarpih (manager), Rohit Nongspung (assistant coach), Franklin Sohphoh (physio)

(Photo contributed by the Meghalaya Football Association)

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