By John K. Kaping
UKHRUL, Jun.11: “The secret of my success is my love of the game”, said Baichung Bhutia, former Indian Football team captain who is also referred to as the Sikkimese snipper in the Indian Football world.
The football striker coined this word while replying to queries by the people of Ukhrul in a public interactive discussion at Ukhrul Somsai. The “soccer Icon” was felicitated by the people of Ukhrul and the 17th Assam Riffles 10 Sector B’ Range Somsai today morning in a function hosted by the 17th Assam Riffles at its recreation hall under the theme “AR Presents Football Clinic by Baichung Bhutia on 11-06-2011 at Somsai”.
The DIG 10 Sector B’Range Somsai Brig. Narender Kumar in his speech expressed his deep appreciation of the “Indian Soccer hero” termed the star as one of the greatest “Icons” touching the zenith position of achievements in India in the arena of Football. The Brig also gave an assurance to sponsor one football talented school children between the age of 8-12 years from any school in Ukhrul to be cared in financially, educationally and especially in football encouraging to follow in the footsteps of Baichung.
The occasion was marked and attended by all ranks and files of the 17tth Assam Riffles led by the DIG and Commanding officer (CO) Col. Beniwal from the Army Sector where as the Ukhrul District Sports Association (UDSA) Officials, Public leaders, tremendous foot-ball fans from Ukhrul district especially the students of UDSA and Ukhrul District media team also participated in the interaction with the Indian star.
A comprehensive “person to person interactive session” was also conducted in an open platform before dessert break served by AR.
There was also an exhibition football match played between students of the district at the Somsai play-field.
The function was conducted by the commander Ukhrul Post Capt. Sushil Kumar followed by a welcome and key-note address delivered by Tennyson a public leader who elaborated on a brief background history of the soccer who was born in Tinkitam(Sikkim) on Dec. 15, 1976 and started his education in St.Xaviers School, Pakyong, East Sikkim and won a football scholarship from SAI at the age of nine.
He played for several local clubs in his home state before he represented and won the best player award in the 1992`Subroto Cup`.
In 1993, at the age of 16 he left school to join the professional East Bengal Club in Calcutta. Two years later he joined to JCT Mills Football Club, which went on to win the Indian National Football League in the 1996-97 season. Bhutia was the top goal scorer in the league, and was chosen to make his International debut in the Nehru Cup.
He was named “1996 Indian player of the year”. He became the 19th Footballer to recieve “Arjuna Award” in 1999. On Jan 26, 2008 he was chosen for “Padma Shree” for his contribution to Indian Football. He has been described as “God`s Gift to Indian Football”.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Lucky Sareo, secretary UDSA. Also footballs were distributed to various Ukhrul local teams by the visiting Indian soccer Icon. The former Indian football team captain is also reportedly to sojourn his stay in Ukhrul for a couple of days with an aim to train the football talented school children whom he is quite familiar with as infact his spouse (life Partner) Madhuri Bhutia who is a product from Ukhrul Savio School plus Ukhrul being the hometown of his colleague former footballer Somatai Shaiza.