Kohima, Dec. 29: Kwethelhi Thopi debuted with Aizawl FC to become the first player from Nagaland to play in the Hero Indian League for the 2015–16 season. Then James Kithan, goalkeeper for Churchill Brothers Sporting Club in Goa followed to become the second person to debut in the I-League with a match against Shillong Lajong FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Dec. 2 this year. He has not only played for the Churchill Brothers but has also received a hero-of-the-match award in the I-league match against Kingfisher East Bengal on Dec. 16.
Kithan told the Eastern Mirror: “I am really grateful to almighty God for this wonderful opportunity, He made this possible for me and also my family for supporting me and always being there for me through my hard times and also my agent for his hard work on me for my success till now and also in future to come.”
Wokha native had a word for the youngsters: “It is all about never to give up on your dreams with hard work, determination, focus, disciple and fighting spirit to achieved your goals by playing football as a career. Not only playing football in Nagaland but beyond Nagaland with the top clubs. There is always chance to be successful on it…I wish to see more Naga players come to I-League next season. In God I trust.”
The 24 year old is a son of Ashio Kithan hailing from Dimapur. He has played for Kohima Komets (Kohima), Peerless Sports Club (Kolkata), Mohammedan Sporting Club (Kolkata), Viva Chennai FC (Chennai) and now Churchill brothers FC (Goa).
18-year-old Visalie Mezhii is one of the youngest players in the league and an attacking midfielder for Churchill Brothers Sporting Club. He is the only son of Keviuchulie Mezhü, a pastor of the Town Baptist Church at Medziphema. The young player is the second child of the five siblings. The product of Shillong Lajong Football Club academy said: “First of all, all glory to God, I feel blessed and excited to be in the I-league team for the top tier league. God is the only reason that i made it so far, without his grace and blessing, I am nothing.
The player explained that being a professional footballer was difficult as football is very competitive in India and abroad. ‘But nothing is impossible with God, fear and honour God, work hard, and stay humble and always remember that there is no shortcut towards success,’ he said.
18 year old Neithovilie Chalieu is also another football player from Nagaland. He called his experience in being part of the league and Shillong Lajong team a ‘wonderful feeling and a great experience.’
‘It is always been hard work, sacrifice, patience to reach where I am today n it is just a start,’ he said and hoped that by putting his effort and playing better, youngsters would be influenced to take up the sport and pursue their dream. He is the son of Zhagwelhou and Kezhaleno Chalieu, hailing from Tsiepama village of Dimapur district. He is the fifth child among seven siblings.
AFC A licensed assistant coach senior and youth coach of Aizawl Football Club N William Koso had a good word for the players. He said “I am really happy for them that they have made it in the bigger platform, I really wanted our Naga footballers to reach the professional level and knowing they were my players.”
James Kithan is said to have trained under Koso. “I want to encourage parents to send their kids for professional football career and Naga football coaches to look beyond the state. Working in professional level it’s very challenging and exciting and of course nothing like living your dream” said Koso.