A thrilling exhibition football match between Bhaichung Bhutia XI & WSSA XI ended in a draw. The match was organised to find ways on nurturing young talents in Nagaland
By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent
Two former Indian Football captains, Baichung Bhutia and Renedy Singh together locked horns with the officials of Western Sumi Sports Association (WSSA) in an exhibition football match held on Friday at the DDSC Stadium, Dimapur, which ended with a draw 2-2.
Organized in solidarity and to support grassroots football in Nagaland, the much awaited exhibition match between the “WSSA 11” and “Baichung 11 USFC” kick-started after a formal programme which saw Advisor, power, Nagaland, H Tovihoto Ayemi, gracing the exhibition match as the special guest.
The exhibition match organized in solidarity and support of grassroots football in Nagaland on the theme “Match for a Cause”, Tovihoto termed football as a game which unites people from all over across the world while also bringing sustainable development.
Stating that the kind of such exhibition matches could be an experience for the young minds towards positive changes in the society, Tovihoto hoped that through the games the state would produce exemplary sports persons like the Naga legendary footballer Dr T Ao.
Founder and chair of the YouthNet, Hekani Jakhalu Kense, in her opening remarks said the objectives of the exhibition match was to create a Corpus Fund which would identify and train 11 football coaches, where these football coaches would organize U-14 teams in targeted cluster villages.
She said it would also be followed by sponsoring trials to various professional football clubs of talented players.
Hekani further went on to add that this initiative was important to nurture young talents especially in the villages and rural areas which would give them the platform now to grow professionally.
She took the example of other states in the northeast like Sikkim and Manipur where sports infrastructures have been developed like stadiums and turfs after the rise of international sports stars, which is also critical need in the state.
The pilot project, she said would be under the guidance of Bhaichung Bhutia, and Renedy Singh.
Rev Dr Phughoto Sema, ES WSBAK, invoked the programme where a dance troop from Pihekhu Village, Aghunaqa Area, performed a folk dance.
Vice-president, Western Sumi Sports Association (WSSA), Mughapu V Yeptho, delivered the vote of thanks.
A penalty shoot-out was also organized in aid of Baichung Bhutia Project Corpus Fund (BBPCF) between Wing Commander S Akheto Jakhalu as the team captain and Bhaichung Bhutia’s Team where an amount of Rs 50,000 was contributed by the members.
The event was powered by Atoqa Tea factory (North East Brews Nagaland Premium Tea), YouthNet and Musik-A Events.
The exhibition football match was followed by performances from Alobo Naga, N K Naga, Kekhrie Ringa and Dreamz Unlimited.
Bhaichung Bhutia, is an Indian former professional footballer who played as a striker.
He is considered as the torchbearer of Indian football in the international arena and is often nicknamed the “Sikkimese Sniper” because of his “shooting” skills in football.
Accompanying the former captain of the national team was Renedy Singh, who also happened to be the former Indian football captain.
The “Match for a Cause” was a promotional event of a collaborative project between the Western Sumi Sports Association (WSSA) and the Naga entrepreneurs among which included internationally renowned crooner, Alobo Naga, YouthNet and Chothao Rakho of Atoqa Tea Production Co Ltd.
To support and promote local entrepreneurs, various stalls were also put up at the venue.
It may be mentioned that the Indian football legend, Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee, Bhaichung Bhutia, who is also the brand ambassador of Northeast Brews, Nagaland’s premium tea brand, and Renedy Singh, coach of East Bengal football team and former Indian football captain, have also been roped in as the advisors to Western Sumi Sports Association (WSSA).