Growing up the only household name in Indian football I knew of was none other than Bhaichung Bhutia. Described as “God’s” gift to Indian football, Bhaichung has left his legacy for aspiring footballers in the country.
But in India, when it comes to celebrating heroes we don’t move beyond cricket. Although we have started recognising other sports, not much attention has been paid to the footballers of our country.
Anand Kumar, best known for his works in Sanjay Dutt-Vivek Oberoi starrer ‘Zila Ghaziabad’, is closely working with the former India football captain on his biopic.
After the likes of Milkha Singh, Paan Singh Tomar, Mary Kom, MS Dhoni, and Sandeep Singh, Bhutia joins the elite club of sports personalities to be immortalised on celluloid.
Anand Kumar, who is the brain behind conceptualising this movie is currently in the process of finding a director and lead actor for the film who can do justice to the story.
Bhutia has expressed his excitement regarding his upcoming biopic and thinks Kumar is the right person to honour his journey on screen.
“I am honoured that people feel that my journey is worth capturing for the big screen. I am certain that Anand will do justice to my story. I hail from a small town in Sikkim, but playing football for India wasn’t my only dream. I always wanted to own a professional football club and I realised that dream with United Sikkim (his football club).”
Kumar talked about how the idea of making a movie on football struck him during this year’s FIFA World Cup.
“During the World Cup, I noticed that there has been a change in the sporting passion in India because a large section of India’s youth is now inclined towards football”
“Young kids like the sport more than cricket. That’s why I wanted to make a film on football,” Kumar said.
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A movie to inspire budding footballers
Playing at a time when Indian football had almost no following in India, Bhutia became the torchbearer of Indian football in the International arena.
Coming from a small village of Tinkitam in Sikkim, he didn’t have the financial backing and the support a budding footballer needs. But that didn’t stop him from working hard.
At the age of 9 he received a scholarship from the Tashi Namgyal Academy, Gangtok where he impressed everyone with his football, including former Indian footballer Bhaskar Ganguly, and before passing school he was wearing the celebrated East Bengal shirt.
In 1995, he helped JCT Mills win the National Football League becoming their top goalscorer. Coming back to East Bengal in 1997, he became the first player to net a hat-trick against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.
He went on to play in Malaysia as well as in Europe, a major feat for Indian football after he joined English club Bury on a three-year contract.
But it was always for India, where he was at his peak.
He became the most capped player and also the top goalscorer for India and led the team into a successful patch, winning the SAFF Championship thrice and the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008, after which India competed in the Asian Games for the first time since 1984.
His off-field exploits
To all our current football stars, Bhaichung has always been an inspiration. His efforts have contributed in giving us excellent players like Subrata Paul, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua or Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Bhutia has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Michael Ballack, and Fabio Cannavaro when he played in a charity game for Africa in 2008, making India proud once again.
Even after his retirement, football has been his only true companion.
He worked as a manager for United Sikkim and also started a football school, which offers world-class football coaching through 49 training centers across the country in 18 cities, where more than 30% of the students are from the underprivileged sections.
Bhaichung Bhutia has ensured that amongst the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, Indian domestic football is not totally lost.
He is certainly a role model for all young kids planning to be footballers and his story will surely be a learning curve for all of them.
Image Credits: Google Images