The most reckoned face of Indian football, Baichung Bhutia has launched a new football club named United Sikkim FC in a program held in Kolkata. You all must have heard it by now from various sources. This article is about what an Indian football enthusiast in me thinks about it.
Professionalism in domestic football league has paid dividends for many a countries, the most recent and fabulous and enviable story being that of Japan. Prior to the official launch of J-League, football was in shambles there with bad infrastructure and total amateurism. Professionalisation brought in a wave which sailed the nation to the coveted shore of FIFA World Cup in 2002.
Our very own National Football League was scrapped and replaced with so-called ‘professional’ I-League in 2007-08. But it was just old wine in new bottle, semi-professional at best. The clubs were the same, their lousy bosses were the same. Nothing changed except for the name. And as we put it “what’s in a name”.
We started seeing some ray of hope with Pune FC and Mumbai FC being launched recently who have undoubtedly the best set-up currently and they have done their best with limited resources. We thought that the age-old clubs will probably get some inspiration and stir up things. But no. The darkness prevailed on them.
The most surprising part was that there was not a single club from the North-East of India from where the majority of Indian footballers have come up until Lajong FC came into the picture. What a sight it was to see them at home! Fans were overflowing in the stadium wearing team jersey and singing songs- a rare sight in Indian football. But they flattered to deceive- relegated in the 1st year itself with not much resources at hand.
Now its the Snow Lions with the name of United Sikkim FC which has made new promises. Being co-owned by FudelisWorld, Shankar Mahadevan (!) and legendary Baichung Bhutia himself. I would have written it off saying this was going to be also ran had it not been Bhutia at the helm. Just look at him talking about his new club. How determined he is about his vision and how ambitious he is! He plans to open a football academy of world standards on the 20 acres of land allotted by Sikkim government. The club already boasts of title sponsor (EMTA group) and a huge fan following across the nation is guaranteed with the name Baichung.
The club is also going to have a theme song which will be another first in I League. Shankar Mahadevan, whose ‘De Ghuma Ke’ is on everyone’s lips is confident of delivering a theme song that will mesmerize one and all and will be heard in stadium in chorus. Bhutia also aims for the I League spot within 3 years although he is confident of making it this year itself.
And there is the club mascot Snow Lion. All in all this is an amazing start for the club that promises a lot and makes one believe that they have the capacity to deliver it. Lets hope for the best. My best wishes to USFC. Watching them in a capacity crowd filled picturesque Paljor Stadium will be treat to Indian football fans’ eyes!
I will leave you all with the cute Snow Lion dance!
USFC Launch Sikkim Snow Lion Dance (Click to Download Video)