Shillong, May 3: Four games – two women’s and two men’s – witnessed a spirited yet friendly toughening from the get go at the Farmers’ World Cup today.

The mixed bag of emotions could be seen as the spectators rooted for their teams.

The first match saw Marngar beat West Garo Hills 1-0 in the men’s event, while Marngar’s women were 2-0 victors against WGH’s women. It finished 0-0 between South West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills in the men’s division later on, while Marngar 1 triumphed 4-0 over South Garo Hills in the last women’s game.

What exactly is the Farmers’ World Cup? It’s being touted as an innovative football tournament among (you guessed it) farmers to promote community building and trigger a positive change in their livelihoods. It is an ABANI Meghalaya and AFISI initiative.

After the second game, the rain stopped by to play spoilsport but the dark skies did not deter the players from giving their best, especially the West Garo Hills men’s team, who mustered their strength, stamina and skills to take on their challengers, the big boys from Marngar.

As she led her team to victory, mother of two and goalkeeper, Mary Syngkli of the Marngar women’s team was ecstatic, saying, “I never thought I could play football again. Today, I am very happy for my team and my children are happy for me too.”

The tournament is also supported by the Assam Regiment’s Red Horn Division and, as it happens, Syngkli’s husband is a soldier posted in Jammu & Kashmir.

All matches witnessed a ceremony of exchange of indigenous seeds and created a curiosity of sorts among the players and spectators. Interesting conversations and story-swapping took place between the farmers from different districts, which organisers hope will strengthen the new friendships formed over farming and football.

(Photo contributed)

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