United Sikkim Football Club has become the first club from Sikkim to qualify for I-league. Bhaichung Bhutia, co-owner, Nim Tshering, captain and Arjun Rai, senior manager of the club told..
Nim Tshering, captain for United Sikkim says, “This qualification is a very positive step for Sikkim Football”. Sikkim, along with North Eastern states have been producing great football players for India
in recent years. Some of the present players from the Indian football team such as Sushil Singh, Reneddy Singh, Nirmal Chettri, and Gourmangi are from the North East part of India. Like any other footballer, he also dreams of representing Indian in international matches. As of now, his feet are on the ground and dreams of playing for United Sikkim forever.
The competition in the I-league is going to be of a better quality. Hence, this bunch of players may find it tough against major teams such as Mohan Bagan, East Bengal, but they are sure to give it all. Currently, most of the United Sikkim players are from Sikkim, Bangalore, Manipur, and Mizoram etc. One of the best thing about the club is that home grown players are also included, which would egg them on to perform at the highest level. Even if they do not feature in the starting eleven, practising alongside experienced players will help them improve the game. With the experience of Bhaichung in close aide, the local players of Sikkim must make the best use of it. At present, there are a total of 8 -9 local players in the club.
The club had initially given themselves three years time to qualify for I-League. But, with passionate support staff, players and its dedication, they qualified within 15 months. Bhaichung does not expect to win the I-league straight away, but hopes to attain the top 3 standings in the upcoming season. It is still a tough ask. Hence, they are trying to sign in some quality players who could make a difference in their objective of finishing in the top 3 position in their debut season. He adds, “It might be difficult to sign new players, as many players are involved with long contracts in other clubs”.
The team is still in its initial years, so they need to grow and develop quickly. Arjun Rai, Senior Manager of the club says, “We have major plans of establishing a football academy in Sikkim”. The Sikkim government has been very supportive in their initiative of setting up an academy. If it does happen, Arjun Rai confidently says, “Sikkim will produce more Bahichung’s”. How great would it be when United Sikkim would have majority of their players from the academy and bring laurels to the club?