“God gives gifts to everyone, some can write, some can dance. He gave me the skill to play football and I am making the most of it.” – Ronaldinho

Nainital is a small town in the State of Uttarakhand with serene beauty, boasting a natural lake at the center of the town covered with hills from all sides. Football has some strong connection with the town, people here irrespective of age take part in various football competitions organized in the town. Landau league is one such tournament that has taken place from the last ninety-seven years and I believe the participation has always been a great affair for the generations of footballers in the town. The tales of great footballers of the past has always been the hot topic of discussion among the players and spectators alike who practice gather at the flats to witness the biggest tournament of the town.

The tournament is held in the month of August and September with more than 30 teams participating every year. The best thing about the tournament is the preparation for the tournament, every player gathering at the football ground practicing in the same field. Every player in Nainital has experienced the Landau football season and the legacy of great teams has continued to dominate the game down the memory lane. The tournament is organized by the District Sports Authority (D.S.A.), Nainital every year and the tournament has seen some excellent talent budding and has gone ahead to represent the state on many occasions. There have been players from Nainital who has represented the state in Subrato cup, as well as a handful playing for India in Sub-junior level.

“Something deep in my character allows me to take the hits, and get on with trying to win.” – Lionel Messi

The preparation for the tournament starts from the month of July itself when players start practicing in the morning or evening as per their own liking. The gravel stone-hard ground is a very tricky ground to play on with the ball traveling much faster on the ground among other difficulties such as uneven bounce and slippery small stones to run upon. The players practice hard to get adapted to the field and display their talent with the hope to play for the big teams one day. There are a few teams like Sheela Mount, Killers, Fun2’s, Sherwood Ranger and Lemex FC who are considered the biggies in the tournament, these teams are always in the knockout stages and eventually one of them crowned champion every year. These clubs have the biggest following in the town varying from young students to office going Uncles to the retired oldies. Every child hopes to represent one of these teams in the tournament to be able to lift the trophy and get a name for himself.

The last tournament final which I personally witnessed was in the year 2018 which was played against Killer’s FC and Lemex FC, the match was one hard-fought battle with both the teams fighting hard to score a goal, the scores were level till the half time and into the second half Killer’s FC was able to score past the strong Lemex defense eventually being the only goal of the final. Killer’s FC was the winner of the 96th Landau League Tournament, there were some crying faces in Lemex FC  saddened by the loss after being so close to the maiden title in their history of 10 years of the club.

“I have to keep working hard and playing well because I don’t like to be second or third: they’re the worst places to be. You would be proud, of course, because it means you’re on the way, but you want to finish first.” – Paul Pogba

 For all the football fanatics out there, Landau League is one such low-level football tournament that one must witness at least once in their lifetime. The rules however allow only the residents or the people who have or are completing their studies from the town to participate in the tournament but the quick-paced tournament is one that can be viewed while on vacation in the town. The competitiveness of the tournament is such that the transfer of players is a very big deal and can be the topic of Chai pe Charcha for all the football lovers in the town.

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