The upcoming season of the I-League is set to feature a number of promising future stars and among them will be 21-year-old forward Rohmingthanga Bawlte, who will don the iconic red jersey of Aizawl FC – the team he has grown up supporting.
“It’s a great pleasure to play for a club from my home state. Aizawl FC is the most popular club in Mizoram and I have been a fan of the team right from the very start. It is extra special to play the club I have been supporting from my childhood,” Rohminga, as he fondly referred to, said in a candid chat.
The side from Mizoram scripted history in the 2016-17 season of the I-League as they defied all odds to clinch the title in a memorable campaign. Rohminga, who hails from Lunglei village in the state, is a versatile forward capable of playing multiple positions across the front line and made clear his intention to work towards repeating the feat in the 2020-21 edition.
“I have great memories from the title-winning season. All of us felt very happy and celebrated the historic victory. Now, this season we want to win the I-League again for Aizawl FC. We are a young team but we are confident that we will have a good season ahead. We have practised very hard in pre-season and are concentrated on becoming champions. The mentality is good in the camp and we are hopeful of a successful season,” he declared.
The forward added, “Training has been going on for two months and I am excited to play under the guidance of our coach Mr. Stanley Rozario. We had a pre-season camp in Aizawl where we did high-tempo training twice a day, which has helped us develop a great mindset. I have heard that every team has prepared very well and had good pre-seasons, so it will be a great competition and I will do my best to help Aizawl FC take the trophy.”
The coming season will be a unique campaign, with 11 teams playing in a revised format in three stadiums across Kolkata and Kalyani. The season will also see the formation of a bio-secure bubble and teams undergoing an initial period of quarantine, along with regular testing and strict norms.
“As a professional player, you have to adjust to every situation. During quarantine, we will work out in our rooms and we will have to make sure we don’t put on weight and remain in good shape. We have to take care of our bodies in every way we can. With the new normal, the coming season will be a challenge but exciting at the same time,” Rohminga maintained.
It was at the age of 10 that Rohminga began playing football, with his first coach being his father — a former footballer himself. In 2016, he was scouted and selected for the AIFF Academy set-up in Goa, which helped him ‘prepare’ for the step-up to the senior level.
“Training with the AIFF Academy gave me a lot of invaluable experience and prepared me for the senior level. As a kid, your dream is to be part of the India camp and represent your country. It taught me a lot both on and off the field and has helped me a great deal,” he said.
Rohminga has featured in 18 Second Division League matches for Chennaiyin FC B and scored four times, and in the 2019-20 season, he also made one appearance for the Indian Arrows.
“Even though I could only play one match with the Arrows, it was a great experience for me. The whole set-up was like the senior national team and helped me understand the importance of discipline. Head coach Mr. Venkatesh is a great coach and I really liked the way he wanted us to play – a possession style of football. The experience helped me a lot in my development,” Rohminga stated.