Coach Bobby Lyngdoh Nongbet is just as excited as every other Meghalaya football fan to see the state team into the semifinals of the Santosh Trophy 2022-23. Here Nongbet, who holds an AFC A Licence and who was AIFF Youth Coach of the Year in 2018, gives us his thoughts on the fantastic performance…

We will remember 20th February 2023 as a new dawn in Meghalaya football.

We have touched new heights by reaching, for the first time ever, the semifinals of the prestigious National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy in many, many years of attempts.

A new chapter has begun and the calibre and potential our boys have gives me much hope and confidence.

A few years back, I had mentioned to TSR that we have improved at a very good pace. Grassroots and youth development have seen huge positive exposure and improvements.
I have seen, experienced and witnessed the efforts in football development all over the country with the trend of football schools, centres and academies. Football is being taken very seriously.

Talking about our state, I am very happy with the efforts in football development here too. Despite the small number of training grounds available, football coaching is going on apace and I am also happy to see the level of interest people have in becoming coaches.┬áIt is said, and it’s definitely true, that better coaches make better players. And this requires our coach education system to be active as the more coaches we can make, the more players will be identified and trained.

It’s also overwhelming to see how many players and coaches have become more exposed to playing and coaching outside the state. This speaks a lot about how much we have developed in the last seven to eight years. I have seen this myself in the way that our players are much more able to adapt to the heat and different conditions when playing in tournaments outside the state.

Another factor has been the rise of football schools, coaching centres and academies in Meghalaya and the level and number of competitions. These give our players better professional training and more match time and really help in match absorbing, familiarity and delivery.

It’s so interesting to see that each senior team, be it a school, club, etc have one or two youth teams. If this is maintained, we are only going to get better and better when it comes to competing at the national level.

Keeping all this in mind, I am confident we will one day become one of the most resourceful footballing states in the country.

History beckons us with a chance to qualify for the Santosh Trophy final. It would be so much sweeter and of immense pride once we do. And having the in-form coach Khlain and the able support staff mentoring the boys, I still believe there can be more history in store. My sincere regards and best wishes to Team Meghalaya. Good luck!

(All India Football Federation photo)

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