Mizoram's victory in the Santosh Trophy this year put the limelight on football in the north-east and India defender Gouramangi Singh reaffirmed the rise by saying that this was the best phase for the sport in the region.

Gouramangi, who hails from Manipur, said the north east had always produced fine footballers but now clubs from the region had also started making their mark.

There are two clubs from Shillong in the Airtel I-League and there is also Royal Wahingdoh which is in the second division league.

"North-east has always been a hot bed for football talent but never for football clubs. Over the past two decades, if you see, most clubs would have had at least two to three players from the north east playing in their teams in the national football league and the I-League," Gouramangi told AIFF Media Thursday.

"However, with the emergence of clubs from Shillong, presently there are more options for a player. Nowadays, a footballer from north-east need not necessarily venture out to play outside the region. Personally, I hope for the full transition and wait for the day when all Manipuri players can play in a Manipur I-League club and so on.

‘Work at the grassroot level’

Gouramangi, who is a product of the Tata Football Academy and has plied his trade with clubs like Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers, said theres was still a lot of work needed to be done at the grassroot level.

"There is plenty of talent but we need to do much more work at the grassroot level. With the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup approaching there should be plenty of academies, football schools of excellence, etc in the region," said the central defender.

"Schools should also tie up with football academies to make better educated players who excel in the game and also have a back up career from their education."

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