TRAU (Tiddim Road Athletic Union) FC confirmed their promotion to the I-League after a fantastic unbeaten run in the final round of the 2nd division League. They are yet to play their final game against Ozone FC but have picked up an unassailable lead, with 15 points from five games.
Secretary Phulen Meitei was delighted with the win and expressed his excitement about competing with the big guns next season.
“We have been trying for this promotion since the last two years. So, obviously, we are delighted. We deserve this. We will try our level best to go through I-League and challenge other teams also.
“99 per cent of the players are home-grown. They play with a fighting spirit, commitment and represent the entire state of Manipur. Other teams play for money, but our boys are committed and play with their mind and soul for Manipur. It’s not that our boys are more talented, it’s the experience that counts at the last moment,” he said
There is still not much clarity on whether I-League will retain its status as the first division but Meitei is excited about just having TRAU compete with teams like Mohun Bagan and in competitions such as the Super Cup.
“We are not bothered about whether I-League becomes second division and Indian Super League (ISL) becomes the first division. We just want to join the selected elite group of teams. We will be joining teams like Mohun Bagan and contesting for AIFF Cup among other things.
“There has been a bit (of financial challenges) because we come from North-East India. We don’t have big industries here. We are getting small amounts from the pockets of our members. As of now, we have 1000 members and we have been contributing 300 rupees per month. On top of that, we have two big sponsors – HVS and Fanai Express, the leading newspaper of Imphal,” he concluded.