- Abhijit Nath, NET Correspondent, Tripura
Huge crowd at Khumulwng stadium in West Tripura district cheered-up on watching the football iconic & former captain of the Indian Soccer team, Bhaichung Bhutia.
On the invitation of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) Sports and Youth Affairs department, Bhaichung Bhutia arrived here at Khumulwng and inaugurated the final match of TIPRA Football League (TFL) played between Gomati Zone and West Zone on Wednesday.
Prior to the final match, Bhaichung presented his dribbling skills in front of huge crowd, royal scion and TIPRA Motha chairman Pradyot Kishore Debbarman.
Speaking with media persons, Bhaichung Bhutia said “I am thankful to the entire TTAADC administration and royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarman for inviting me as the inaugurator in the program”.
Witnessing the enthusiasm among the audience in the stadium, he said “It seems like a new beginning of football here in Tripura”.
Bhaichung said that problems of North East youth are multi-pronged and sports might play a key role in pulling them off.
“I think it is very important to focus on sports, especially our youths not only in Tripura but in the whole North East region. The youth and its energy should be channelized in the right direction”, he added.
Bhaichung asserted “Northeast is full of challenges such as Drugs and other antisocial activities. I am hopeful, this TTAADC will set an example in Tripura and the rest of the NE will copy it. I think this is a great initiative”.
The royal scion and TIPRA Motha chairman Pradyot Kishore Debbarman announced that Bhaichung Bhutia has agreed to become the brand ambassador of TTAADC to lead a campaign against drugs and HIV AIDS.
Debbarman said that the main motive of the TTAADC administration was to disseminate the message of sports and convince the youth that drugs is not an option.
“Tripura is only in the news for elections, violence etc. We want to make our youth feel that there are other avenues open for them as well”, he added.
The royal scion asserted “Encouraging sports, fitness and other avenues is our main motto where the youths can excel in their careers. It’s a worrisome situation about the rising drug menace in Tripura and HIV positive cases. More people should take sports as a career. Our role model is a Bhaichung who himself an indigenous Sikkimese. He is a role model for us”.
In total, 33 sub-zonal teams participated in the league that continued for more than a month.
Meanwhile, Gomati zone grabbed the title of the first TIPRA Football League defeating West Zone. The winners had been awarded a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh while the runner’s team was rewarded with Rs 1.5 lakh. The team that came in the third position get Rs 75,000.
The event was attended by TTAADC Chief Executive Member Purna Chandra Jamatia and all the Executive Members of TTAADC.
Its worthy to note that Bhutia has played for fierce Kolkata rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan and is much-loved by both sets of fans.
Bhaichung is a pioneer, who opened the doors to Europe when he signed for English club Bury FC in 1999, making him the first Indian footballer to play in England.
Recently, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports included Bhaichung in the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) to accelerate India’s progress on the global sports platform, ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.