Meet ‘Triple R’, the Aizawl FC Owner Now Gunning To Be Mizoram MLA
Robert Romawia Royte, better known as ‘Triple R’, says he’ll be the Cristiano Ronaldo of Mizoram politics.
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma and Vivek Gupta
Robert Romawia Royte’s size betrays his larger-than-life personality. As he arrives for an interview with The Quint at Aizawl’s Assam Rifles Ground, all eyes are on him. He notices the attention but chooses not to acknowledge it. Instead, he takes to helping the crew look for a “proper” place to conduct the interview.
“It’s Roma-way Roy-te”, he enunciates upon being asked the pronunciation of his name. “People just call me ‘RRR’ or ‘Triple’ R”,” he adds with a chuckle.
On that note, we begin the interview.
Known across the affluent circles of Aizawl as a well-off but helpful man, Royte is the promoter of Aizawl FC – the football club which made history by winning the I-League in 2017. Their rag to riches story became a talking point in the national media and a matter of much celebration in Aizawl.
“It was like India had won the World Cup”, said Zuala, a local driver, describing the celebrations.
Royte, now, wants to take his passion forward from football. And so, in the upcoming state election due on 28 November, he is contesting as Mizo Nation Front’s candidate for the Aizawl East (II) constituency.
Royte’s inclination towards politics comes from his experience as a promoter for the football club. He joined the Mizo Nation Front – the principal opposition to the ruling Congress in the state – in September 2018.
“Mizoram has no sports policy”, he says. “It makes it very difficult for a promoter or sportspersons to be incentivised to invest in sports, or take it up as a full time career.”
“In spite of my team, Aizawl FC, qualifying for the Asia League, we couldn’t play our home matches in Mizoram because the state does not have any internationally-qualified football ground. It exposed the failure of the government.”
Royte trails off to talk about the kind of boys who come to play for Aizawl FC. Young boys, of about 14 to 15 years of age, who come from the rural areas of the state. “We don’t have the funds to arrange for residence and food for all of these boys. But it is their passion for the sport because of which they manage by staying with relatives and working part-time jobs”.
There’s a world-class stadium that is underway, he says. “It is still seeing some legal and bureaucratic troubles. But once it’s done, maybe we’ll be able to house more people.”
As we speak, a group of kids in school uniform take to the field. Many of them are young girls, passing around the ball or doing routine warm-up exercises.
“Women in Mizoram are very interested in sports too”, Royte remarks. “Aizawl FC used to be the only club to participate in the National Women’s League at one point of time.”
He goes on to narrate how even on the stand during match day, his club sees more female supporters than male – a sight that clubs from Kolkata or Bengaluru usually do not witness.
At this point of the interview, we challenge him to a rapid fire.
“I will give you the name of a football player, and you tell me the name of a politician – in Mizoram or nationally – that you think is most similar to the said footballer. Shall we start?”
“Yes, please.” Royte agrees.
“First – Cristiano Ronaldo.”
He thinks for a bit and then says, “I have a name in mind but it is not prudent to say it in front of the media.”
After refusing to respond to a few more names, he finally adds, “RRR will be the Cristiano Ronaldo of Mizoram politics.”
“Just like Aizawl FC came out of nowhere to win the I-League, I will come out of nowhere to take politics by storm,” he adds confidently.
With that, he walks off to greet the starry-eyed school kids waiting to take a picture with him. He also passes a few balls with them. After that, he leaves – his exit grabbing as many eyeballs as his entry.
One of the schoolgirls comes up to us and asks, “Miss, are you friends with Mr Royte? Can you please give me his number? He’s a star!”
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