If someone asks you to think India and sports your first thought would be Cricket. In a country obsessed with the game, it is hard to believe that some part of it has been left untouched by the glitz and glamour generally associated with the game. But the Northeast States are an exception. Football is the first choice sport here. Barring Guwahati, this is true of the entire Northeast.
But in a world of exceptions, Hokaito Zhimomi is another one. While his friends gravitated towards football, Zhimomi looked at the sport that gets crowds roaring in the rest of India. But if there is one common theme all over India, it has to be the need of a “safe” government job and similar was the case with Zhimomi whose father wanted him to be a government official. But a little help from his mother and he was able to convince his father to send him to Guwahati where he could improve his skills.
Jesse Owens, the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history, once said, “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”
And Zhimomi wasn’t the one to give up even in face of extreme difficulties.
Hailing from Sangtamtila, a remote village in Nagaland’s Dimapur District, he would travel to town to play cricket on a field that was actually meant for football. “Bowl fast, and hit the ball” were the two maxims Zhimomi followed for the lack of cricket infrastructure in the state.
This made Zhimomi an all-rounder. He is a right hand batsman who earlier bowled left-arm medium but now bowls left-arm orthodox. Having decided to pursue cricket, he came to Kolkata with an uncle of his and joined the Gymkhana Club. After a year, he was signed up by Victoria Athletic Club before moving to Kalighat Cricket Club and Dalhousie Cricket Club.
Heads turned when he he got the call-up to train at the Eden Gardens with the Kolkata Knight Riders. In the few days of nets at Eden with Sourav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting & Co, Hokaito stood out with his liveliness. But as fate would have it, he didn’t get a game and the contract wasn’t extended.
Zhimomi almost thought his cricket dream was over his father suffered a stroke and he had to go back home. But his father recovered well and he moved to Guwahati, the city closest to home.
History books were rewritten in 2012 when he represented Assam in a Ranji Trophy match against Tripura and became the first first-class cricketer from the state of Nagaland.
Zhimomi has proved to be the spark that was need for a cricket revolution in Nagaland. Dimapur has a proper cricket stadium with floodlights while the Nagaland state team plays the BCCI’s junior tournaments. Life came full circle for Zhimomi when the Nagaland Cricket Association inaugurated the “Hokaito Zhimomi Cricket Coaching Centre” with the objective of making the game popular and accessible to one and all in the state.
One person took the road less travelled by and opened the routes for next generations to come. We applaud the spirit of Hokaito Zhimoni and wish him all the best in the future endeavors.