The young Meiteis and Kukis, who often find themselves at odds with each other and even pointing guns, came together in a remarkable display of camaraderie, respect, and love for sports. Despite being 2,450 km away from their conflict-ridden villages in Manipur, they united to participate in a football tournament held in Delhi. This tournament showcased the power of sports to bridge divides and bring people together.
The football tournament was organized by UNIKAS (United Kakching Students), a student organization led by the Meiteis. Despite their differences, the Meiteis and Kukis showed tremendous sportsmanship and teamwork throughout the tournament. In the end, it was the Kuki-led football team that emerged victorious.
For these young individuals, the tournament provided a much-needed break from the anxiety and turmoil back home. Their respective hometowns in Manipur have been plagued by violence, arson, and clashes for the past five months. Participating in this tournament allowed them to temporarily escape the reality of their conflict-ridden lives and experience a sense of unity and joy on the football field.
This inspiring story highlights the transformative power of sports and the potential it has to transcend boundaries and foster peace. Despite their differences and the challenges they face, these young Meiteis and Kukis found common ground through their shared passion for football, proving that sports can bring people together even in the most challenging circumstances.
A media outlet with the student leaders, who convinced their respective communities and made their fellow friends to participate for the sake of their “love for football”. The students call Delhi the “mainland” where they feel “safe”. The tournament was organised at Delhi’s Burari stadium on October 14-15.
It has been seen that the youths of northeast are known for their interest in sports and music. The region has given renowned sports personalities such as Mary Kom, Mira Bai Chanu, Taba Chake and many more.
The students from both the communities said they were “no more friends” but it is their love for football that has brought them together. Bonit Naorem, secretary of UNIKAS, says, “We only thought about sports, and nothing else. We used to do such things in our home states too. But everyone is reeling under fear and anxiety there. But we are in Delhi, this is mainland. We feel safer here”, as reported by News18.
“We asked all Manipuri students to join us and we also requested the local students to participate. So, we got two Kuki teams registered with us, and we are happy that our Kuki friends won the cup,” Naorem added.
Although Kuki students are happy with the development between the two communities, they say their anxiety does not disappear. “We used to be good friends. But now we are not that close. We maintain distance from each other. The memories of what happened back home linger. But we all came together for our love for sports, specially football,” said Albert Haokip, leader of the Kuki team that won the match.