17 Nov : Indian football icon Bhaichung Bhutia on Monday expressed his willingness to set up a football academy after he hangs up his boots. ” I am working on the project for some time as it is my dream to set up a football academy in the country when I retire from professional football ”.
I will be soon approaching state governments for the purpose, he said while addressing the press in Gangtok at Paljor stadium.However, he asserted, retirement from professional football is still some years away.
” Right now, i am happy with my football and will keep going till I enjoy playing it,” he stated.
The Indian football team captain further said, ”I think the current under-16 age group football team is the best choice to move ahead as its the stage from where we have to build up a strong team”.
We have qualified for the 2011 Asia cup and we will definitely give good performance, he added.
Bhutia, who have been on the forefront for the athletes from the Northeast, also wants to do more for them in the future.There is good potential in the region to tap sports talents.
” I would like to get involved but I cannot do it alone. I need support from the governments and people, ” he said.
For instance, i want my home club United Sporting Club of Sikkim to be the best club in Northeast but we need support, he said.
He is in Sikkim for a two-day visit to launch the Manchester United premier cup qualifying rounds for the East and Northeast zones hosted by Sikkim Football Association (SFA) in Gangtok at Paljor stadium.He will kick off the event on Tuesday.
Bhutia, a product of the United Sporting Club in Sikkim, said he would also provide support to his erstwhile club to make it big in the football circuit at the national level.
He, however, rued the lack of adequate infrastructure for promotion of sports, particularly football, in his home state and said that the authorities should consider developing some more stadiums throughout the state so that more and more youths take to the game.
On the proposed visit to Kolkata by former Argentine captain Diego Maradona next month, Bhutia hoped that the legendary striker will pass on valuable tips to the local football players, besides giving joy to his fans.
Meanwhile, the preliminary rounds for Manchester United Premier Cup will kick off at Paljor stadium on Tuesday with the teams – Sikkim Football Academy, Snow Lion Football Academy and Kalyani Municipality Academy will place each other in a double-round league over the next three days, the Sikkim Football Association (SFA) general secretary Menla Ethenpa said.
Earlier, the organisers had announced the participation of eight teams in the tournament, but due to the disqualification of five teams after detection of more than two over-aged players in their teams, only three teams have been found eligible to take part, an All India Football Federation (AIFF) official Shaji Prabhakaran said.
Bhutia, who had earlier unveiled the trophy at other venues, lauded the initiate of the AIFF to strengthen the game at the grassroot level and said that the tournament, the winner of which will play against the world’s best team in under-15 age group, would held in producing some quality footballers at the national scene in the years to come.