In the 62nd minute, the goal finally came. Bethlehem Vengthlang FC were trailing Chanmari West FC, 1-0, last Tuesday in India's Mizoram Premier League, but midway through the second half, a free kick bounced inexplicably through the box, past Chanmari West's keeper, off the post, and back to an awaiting BVFC player: defensive midfielder Peter Biaksangzuala.
He poked home the equalizer, then took off toward the sideline. He cartwheeled into a backflip and laid facedown as his teammates swarmed him. Their jubilation quickly switched to concern. Biaksangzuala landed on his head. He wasn't moving.
He was rushed to the hospital with severe spinal damage. Biaksangzuala spent five days in intensive care before he succumbed to his injuries Sunday morning.
Bethlehem Vengthlang FC retired his jersey, number 21, and yesterday released this statement on their Facebook page:
GOODBYE PETER BIAKSANGZUALA
Bethlehem Vengthlang FC midfielder Peter Biaksangzuala lost his fight for survival after he suffered a fatal injury while celebrating his goal. It has been a sad day for Mizoram football and the demise of the footballer shook his teammates, footballers and fans alike all over Mizoram. Peter's club Bethlehem Vengthlang FC will retire his jersey no. 21.
On Sunday at around 7:00am in Aizawl Civil Hospital, Peter was pronounced dead five days after that fateful night while playing for his team in the Mizoram Premier League. The Club and fans paid their last respect for the lad from Khawzawl at Bethlehem Vengthlang YMA Hall. Then they moved on to Peter's current residence in Aizawl Venglai before they left for his hometown, Khawzawl in the evening.
Peter was a defensive midfielder who had always been aggressive and hard working, a true team player. Like most defensive midfielders, he was excellent at reading the game, breaking up attacks and protecting his defenders. He was not known to score many goals. In the first season of the Mizoram Premier League in 2012/2013, he was the key player for FC Kulikawn and his talents were recognized by that season champions Dinthar FC who he signed for in the second season. Peter played his role in helping his new club reach the 2013 Independence Day Football final. He signed for a Shillong club Nangkiew Irat before he finally joined the new boys of the third and current season of the Mizoram Premier League team Bethlehem Vengthlang FC.
Bethlehem Vengthlang FC started the campaign better than most expected and after four rounds they have six points and third on the table. On October 14, they faced Chanmari West FC and Peter scored his first goal in the league at 62 minutes which was also the equalizer. He was delighted to score an important goal and celebrated his goal by flipping but unfortunately made an awkward land. He was rushed to Aizawl Civil Hospital.
Peter's injury and his condition was one of the most talked about news in the social media such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Fans, players and everyone who knew about the incident were deeply moved by his unfortunate accident and prayed for his recovery and survival. A CT Scan was done right after he was taken to the hospital and the result showed that the injury inflicted on the spinal cord was quite serious. The doctors did their best to help him fight for his life.
The residents of Bethlehem Vengthlang supported Peter during that past few dark days. The club officials, his teammates as well as caring fans constantly visited him in the hospital and prayed for him. Many players from Mizoram Premier League clubs, the officials from Mizoram Football Association and many people who care about him and local football were there for Peter till his last breath. Mizoram Football Association hired two buses for the friends, families and closed ones of Peter that had taken them to Khawzawl for the funeral.
Bethlehem Vengthlang coach Danny Lalduhawma said, "Peter was a lad with good manner who always maintained his discipline on and off the pitch. I don't think there are many like him". The words of praise from the coach was chorused and echoed by the players who were lucky enough to play with him and the other coaches who worked with him.
In this life, one is required to make many very worldly decisions. Sometimes we take risks and sometimes we take opinions of experienced people. But the only fact on which you will rely when you decide to donate your eyes to the blind, is a good heart. And Peter had a good heart. He donated his eyes for a suffering blind person and he had that desire to help him or her see the world and lead and enjoy a normal life. Peter while he was in the hospital bed told Bethlenhem Vengthlang secretary Lalruatfela ''Sir, I'll be with God'' and the last entry in his diary was from the Bible -2 Chronicles 16:9 - "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
Peter's father Mr. P. Vanlalchhuana said, "I wanted my son to serve God since the day he was born. His interest in football was undeniable so I allowed him to pursue his career in the sport that he loved. I feel he did a fine job and through football he somehow managed to speak to the heart of the people concerned . He maintained his discipline and stayed away from all the bad habits as far as I'm concerned and he set a good example for sportsmen which is important,". Mr. Vanlalchhuana was thankful to the people who mourned the death of his son. Bethlehem Vengthlang FC President R. Lalthatluanga was also thankful to the officials of Mizoram Football Association, the officials and players of the eight Mizoram Premier League clubs, the residents of Bethlehem Vengthlang and all those people who cared about Peter.
As Peter sleeps, the world can rest in the knowledge that someone out there would be able to see and the football pitch will always be one man down. And heaven has gained a defensive midfielder; apart from the hard tackles and the breaking up of attacks, goal celebrations will never be painful anymore. Goodbye Peter.
Biaksangzuala was 23.