Born – 09.03.1993
Position – Striker
Current Club – Pailan Arrows
Represented India At – U14, U15, U16,U-19,U-23
In the fifth episode of “Indian Football – Profiling The future” series, TheHardTackle sheds light on the career of a Mizo prodigy Malsawmfela, who has represented India at almost all levels in the youth circuit. Born in the eastern city of Aizawl in Mizoram, Malsawmfela came into prominence during his time with the U-16 national team under Colin Joseph Toal in 2008. This Manchester United supporter, is a product of Mohun Bagan Football Academy, but began his club career with the Goan club Salgoacar SC, although he made his I-League début last season with the Pailan Arrows (formerly Indian Arrows).
Under 16 days
Tour of USA (July’2008)
With their eyes firmly set on the AFC U-16 Championship, the Indian colts undertook a two month-long tour of USA and England which would give Malsawmfela an ideal platform to showcase his talent and nor did the striker disappoint.
The tour of USA for young Indian brigade began in July’08 and which saw the Indian team take on seven local sides from Charleston in West Virginia. The Indian side totally outclassed the US clubs as they ended the tour by emerging victorious in six out of the seven tour games. The Indian colts were at their aggressive best as they went on to score a mind numbing forty-six goals on the tour with an average of more than seven goals per game and with Malsawmfela leading from the front with a tally of sixteen goals throughout the twenty-five days campaign. This tour forced the Indian football fraternity to sit up and take notice of this – then fifteen year old prodigy.
Tour of England (September’2008)
Malsawmfela continued on with his impressive display during the team’s England’s tour in the month of September, where they took on the youth teams of English powerhouses Everton and Manchester United respectively.
While trailing by a goal in their first match against Everton, Malsawmfela equalized for the Indian team in the second half to give a glimmer of hope for the tourists a day after his 15th birthday. Everton eventually went on to score their second goal which resulted in a narrow loss for the Indian boys.
Back home, Malsawmfela was starting to catch the eye of major I-League clubs but it was his performance against the youth team of his beloved club Manchester United which established him as the future of Indian football.
On 9th September, the Indian team took on the U-16 Manchester United team in their last tour match and it was yet again Malsawmfela, who stepped up to the challenge. He did not let the situation to get the better of him, and gave the Indian team the lead against the run of play in the fifth minute much to the shock of the hosts. United got back in the game with two goals in the first period but the young Indian forward brought his team back in the match with his and team’s second goal in the early part of the second half. The match finished with a scoreline of 3-3 and the striker was highly praised by his coach for putting up an excellent performance throughout the tour of England.
I- League comes calling
Salgaocar SC quickly gauged the potential of this Mizo kid and after seeing his more than impressive performances on all the international tours, the Goan club wasted no time in taking him under their wings. Fela, was signed by Salgaocar’s then American coach, Tim Hankinson. He started practicing with the main squad in the 2009-10 season but he never got an opportunity to feature for them in the I-League. Although, he did feature for the Goa based club in the Federation cup.
With an eye of 2018 World Cup, the AIFF started an ambitious project by forming a club (AIFF XI) consisting of promising Indian U-19 players at the beginning of last season of the I-League. Fela, was selected as a striker in this new club and had to shift from Goa to Delhi.
The Mizo striker had an auspicious start to his AIFF XI career, as he went on to score in the club’s debut match in the Federation cup against JCT which eventually gave them their first victory as well.
He impressed Arrows coach- Bulpin from the very first day and started making regular starts for the capital based club. At this time he also got to feature in the 2010 Asian games after he was named in U-23 squad which represented India in the tournament.
Malsawmfela, went to score his first goal for the Arrows in the I-League in their sixth match of the season against Hindustan Aeronautics. Bulpin’s boys eventually won the match by two goals to one. Jeje outclassed his fellow striker in the first season on Indian Arrows but on several occasions Fela managed to showcase glimpses of talent which he possesses in his kitty. He finished the season with three goals in the I- League and one goal in the Federation cup for the Indian Arrows.
In February, he was picked in the U-23 squad to play the pre Olympic qualifier against Myanmar and ended up scoring the match winning goal forty minutes into the first leg. Fela also featured in the 2nd leg but surprisingly got robbed of his place in the second round of the Olympic qualifier against Qatar, which India eventually lost.
In August, he made it to the U-19 squad which featured in the Weifang Cup, but couldn’t manage to score throughout the tournament.
Five Interesting Facts About Malsawmfela:
1. On U-16 team’s tour of USA in 2008, the Mizo striker finished with three hat-tricks to his name. He netted four goals – the most by any player in a single match, in Indian team’s encounter against West Virginia Olympic Development team.
2. The same year on team’s England tour, he scored three of team India’s four goals and was the only player to score against both Everton and Manchester United youth teams.
2. He has scored in his début appearance for both Indian Arrows as well as Indian U-23 national team.
3. He considers former Manchester United’s midfielder Paul Scholes as his hero.
4. Malsawmfela enjoys eating rice and pork; also he is a self confessed movie buff.
The squad for Pailan Arrows for the upcoming season has been announced and Fela has been named in the squad for second time running. With the return of Jeje to Pune FC, the pressure on Malsawmfela has increased ten folds. Whether one talks about U-16, U-23 or club football there is no denying that the kid has always had an exceptional start, its only the consistency factor in his game which has let him down. But he is still in his teens with age on his side.; and he is already knocking on the doors of senior team. One hopes his second year with Arrows would help him in improving the consistency level of his game, which will ultimately make him a lethal force to reckon with, in the future.