FOOTBALL WATCH: Bhaichung thinks of soccer after his innings – Thinking really big, the bigger the vision the greater the joy ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Oct. 24: Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia is eyeing a bunch of soccer-related projects to promote the game as he plans to retire in two years.
Apart from the football academies he has been planning for years, the player will soon launch a soccer school in Delhi and wants to line up his United Sikkim Sporting Club for national competitions.
“I am definitely planning retirement from the national team. My target is next two-three years. It will depend on my fitness. Maybe, I will call it a day after the AFC Asia Cup 2011 due next year or I can continue for two-three years. I am at a stage where I can start thinking beyond the game and use my connections gained over the 20-odd years I have played football,” Bhaichung told journalists here this morning.
The football school in Delhi, scheduled to be opened on October 30, is for children to play and practise.
However, setting up football academies in Calcutta and Sikkim with his friend and Bollywood hunk John Abraham remains Bhaichung’s top-most priority.
“I have sent an application to the Sikkim government and the response has been very positive. I need at least 20 acres of land within 30-40km radius of Gangtok to start academy which will have two football fields, including an artificial turf, hostel and other infrastructure,” said the captain.
He also informed that the academy proposed in Calcutta had been received well by the Bengal government. “It will be easy to start the academy in Bengal as I have been offered land outside Salt Lake with a readymade ground and a hostel,” said Bhaichung. He added that he was expecting the groundwork for the Calcutta academy to start by June.
The player knows well that completing the soccer project in Sikkim is a tough task. “Setting up two grounds, hostel and other infrastructure in Sikkim will be difficult and require huge investment considering the hilly and difficult terrain of the state,” said the captain.
Bhaichung said Calcutta-based Camelia Group had agreed to sponsor United Sikkim, giving a push to the team’s foray into national arena. “We are thankful to Camelia Group for sponsoring United Sikkim. After they came, we have done really well. We managed to pay our players for the last two tournaments. Although the amount paid to the players was small, it is a way forward,” said Bhaichung. “Camelia will be sponsoring our team for the second division I-League. We are sending an application to the AIFF (All India Football Federation) to play in the second division and hopefully, we will get a chance as we have fulfilled the main criterion of having a sponsor.”
Bhaichung hoped that once United Sikkim started playing in the second division I-League, the club would become more organised and professional.