MALAPPURAM-BASED CLUB Luca SC have tied up with FC Bilkhawthlir, a club based in Mizoram, for youth & 'strategic' development.
The tie-up marks the first time a Kerala Premier League club has partnered up with a club from Mizoram. At the national level, FC Pune City had previously tied up with Mizoram Premier League club Chanmari FC in a similar youth development oriented effort.
A statement released by Luca SC detailed the reason behind the partrnership,
"Both the clubs will work for the development of youth football & implementation of strategic plans. Based in Mizoram, FC Bilkhawthlir is currently accredited to Kolasib District Football Association, Mizoram. They have been active on the youth football front since their inception (2018) having 127 players on their current roster in four age-category teams. The roster also includes female footballers who are a part of their women’s team. Both clubs will exchange players, technical staff, discuss strategic affairs as a part of the agreement along with representing each other in their respective states."
Both Luca SC and FC Bilkhawthlir are ascending clubs trying to break through to the next level. Earlier this year Luca contemplated entering a bid for I-League but later decided against it, and they're still pursuing a plan to enter the 2nd Division League.
FC Blkhawthlir, meanwhile, have ambitions to qualify for the Mizoram Premier League by by winning the district league and the MPL Qualifiers. They have recently signed a number of talented local players with contracts up to 2024.
Speaking about the partnership, Luca SC CEO Waivaw Srivastav said,
“FC Bilkhawthlir has made a lot of ground in two years time. Their success, ideology & background are identical to ours. We see a copy of us in them. We are sure that we can achieve all our objectives together because they are also growing organically like us.”
The club Director Navas KV also opined,
“We are excited to partner a club like FC Bilkhawthlir, clubs like them give us hope & motivation, they have a dedicated women’s football department too. I’m so happy they are our first partner ever. Record-wise, no higher division club in Kerala has ever partnered a club from Mizoram."
FC Bilkhawthlir Director Chuaungurpuia Pachauau, who was the initiator of the agreement, said,
“I got in touch with them looking for an opportunity to work with Luca SC. I am so happy that we found the opportunity to work jointly. We are keen to take this partnership into a new direction & set precedents for Youth Football in India.”
Mr Lalnghinglova Hmar, the General Secretary of the Mizoram Football Association, expressed happiness when he learned the news about this partnership from TFG,
"I am happy that a team from rural Mizoram has got a chance to tie up with a football club from outside the state. We are hopeful to have more such partnerships in the future as there are lots of other clubs with potential. I also take this opportunity to invite the I-League and ISL clubs to invest in youth development and start a partnership with the clubs of Mizoram - this will lower their spending and also help the growth of Mizoram clubs who are struggling financially."
Bilkhawthlir recently announced their squad for the Mission First Division League, a competition with a local footprint that will keep the club active amidst the COVID-19 lockdown that has forced the Mizoram Football Association to cancel all the major state football competitions including the MFA Super Cup, Independence Day Football Tournament and the Mizoram Football League.
Meanwhile, Luca SC, are also preparing to put on a stronger challenge at the next season of Kerala Premier League, amidst uncertainties about when it will take place. They finished third in Group A last season, failing to qualify for the semis by one point.
It will be interesting to see how this partnership between these emerging local level clubs, who come from two of the most intensely football-loving parts of the country, will play out; especially when it comes to mutual exchanges of promising players that can help both the players and the clubs grow, given the diverse nature of the footballing environments in Kerala and Mizoram.