THE MIZORAM PREMIER LEAGUE is kicking off its 8th season today, with a massive boost to its reach and profile.
The statewide top division football league started its journey in 2012 with the aim of revitalizing local football, which was becoming increasingly less popular. The MPL was an immediate success, brining in thousands of fans to the matches to watch local players play for locality-specific teams and re-kindling the culture of healthy sporting rivalries within the Mizo community.
The league also became a platform to identify the best local talent availalbe and launch them into national competition. Within just a couple of years, clubs like Aizawl FC and Chanmari FC started participating in 2nd Division League. Aizawl FC went on to earn its promotion to the I-League, the highest league in the country, which it became the champions of in 2016-17.
One of the major forces behind the league's success was their broadcasting partner Zonet, who through their own cable TV network beamed the matches to every corner of the state in high quality. But due to the network being limited inside Mizoram, the MPL was not seen by fans outside the state.
All that started to change when Zonet began live streaming local competitions on Facebook and YouTube. Select matches from the MFA Super Cup and the Independence Day Football Tournament were live streamed to wide acclaim from fans, as were the semi-finals and finals of the league. Still, the impact was somewhat limited by the fact that not every match was made available online and the commentary was in Mizo only.
But now a new broadcast partner has come on board for MPL, showcasing the league to the wider Indian audience.
Sony Liv have signed a deal with MFA and Zonet to live stream the 8th season of MPL on its app and website accross the country. This will ensure than Indian football fans get to enjoy the MPL in its entirety in an easily accessible presentation.
Tetea Hmar, the Secretary of MFA who was one of the brains behind establishing the MPL, told TFG that the Sony Liv deal was very important to take the league to its next level of popularity and significance in the Indian football landscape,
"First of all I'd like to thank Sony Liv, and a big thanks to our partner Zonet Cable TV and World1 Sports Consulting Pvt Ltd who helped us to connect with Sony Liv. Having the league feature on a prominent sports streaming platform will do a world of good to our local players who don't often get an opportunity to showcase their talent to a wider audience. The exposure will also help clubs in scouting talent from Mizoram."
Mr Hmar said that the quality of football in MPL is high and watching it will make people realise the depth of football talent present in Mizoram,
"There are some very talented players here in MPL who are equally talented as some of our ISL stars, but do not have the exposure. Sony Liv will connect them to the best of Indian coaches.
"MPL was live on Zonet TV for seven years, it's time to reach out to the other part of the country - we can't do it on owr own, Sony Liv OTT platform will help."
The Sony Liv deal has made MPL the second local league in the country to have multiple broadcast partners, after Calcutta Football League.
This will also be the very first time that the Mizoram Premier League will be broadcast with English commentary, voiced by prominent Mizo sports journalist and author John Zothansanga.
The first match broadcast on the Sony Liv platform will be tomorrow's marquee clash between Aizawl FC and Chhinga Veng FC.