Ukhrul: Kongreikham Duidang was recently appointed as the first team manager of I Legaue outfits TRAU FC for the 2021-22 season. With the appointment, Kongreikham becomes the first ever Tangkhul Naga to manage an I League team.
Hailing from Grihang village in Kamjong District, Kongreikham was a colossal centre half during his prime days from early 2000s and well into the mid 2010s. He was a constant fixture in the U-19 and U-21 Manipur team set up representing the state at various National level tournaments and winning several accolades. It was also under his captainship that TRAU FC won the first edition of the Manipur State League.
After hanging up his boots, Kongreikham went into coaching and served as the coach at Baichung Bhutia Football School in 2014 before going on to work as the Assistant Coach for National United Sporting Club in the Delhi Senior division in 2015. After his stint as a coach at the senior level, Kongreikham went back to work at the Academy setup of Hindustan FC in 2018 before his last role as an Assistant coach for Sudeva Delhi FC in the U-18 Hero I League during the 2019-20 season.
With football taking a break amidst the outbreak of the covid19 pandemic in early 2020, Kongreikham moved back home and spearheaded the formation of the District Football Association of the newly formed Kamjong District. He is currently the Technical advisor of the Kamjong District Football Association that is affiliated to AMFA and helped host Kamjong District’s first ever District League in October 2021.
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Speaking to Ukhrul Times on his new challenge with TRAU FC in the I-League, Kongreikham expressed his delight in taking on the new role; “I was very happy when TRAU approached me with the proposal. This is a big thing for me considering the responsibilities that would be placed on my shoulder. I thought about it, slept on it and for the love of football and for being passionate about my profession, I accepted the proposal.”
When grilled about how it feels to be the first tangkhul to manage an I League team, he relayed on how proud he was about the achievement whilst stating that he wishes to see more “Tangkhuls manage I-League teams in the near future.”
And while he remains ambitious about the football project at TRAU, Kongreikham’s focus as a manager doesn’t end with just football being kicked on the pitch: “Having been involved in football both as a player and a coach in the past 25 years, I have come to realise how important football is in life, and how it can change lives.” he says.
A footballing figure who is highly regarded in his community, Kongreikham is also the advisor for Tangkhul Football Players Association. His love for football and the promise he sees in the beautiful game rings true when he talks about how football can bring about changes to the society at large.
“Looking at the condition of our society where unemployment of educated youths and school drop-outs prevail youths with high potential engaging in drug abuse and other unproductive social activities, it is my belief that introducing and paving a career in football to these unfortunate youths could bring huge positive impact. I wish to nurture and guide these young talents and belief football can be a catalyst for this. I want to achieve this much during my time with TRAU and beyond that, wherever I may be.”
TRAU FC will participate in the upcoming Shirui Lily Cup that is set to kick off from the 22nd of November 2021.