Said to be “God’s gift to Indian Football” by I.M. Vijayan Baichung Bhutia was born in Sikkim to farmer parents. Despite representing his school in other sports apart from football such as basketball, badminton and athletics, Mr. Bhutia’s parents were not supportive of his interest in sports. But because of his uncle Karma Bhutia’s support Baichung Bhutia was allowed to continue with his interest in sports and at the young age of 9 years, he was able to gain football scholarship from SAI at Tashi Namgyal Academy in Gangtok. A supporter of the tibetian Independence Movement, Mr. Bhutia has been honoured with the Arjuna Award for football in 1998, Padma Shri, which is the fourth highest civilian award in India 2008 and Banga Bhusan Award in 2014.
Mr. Bhutia became India’s youngest goal scorer ever, when he scored a goal against the India v/s Uzbekistan football match in the 1995 Nehru Cup which was also his international debut in a match. Mr. Bhutia’s goals were also instrumental in bringing about India’s victory in the 2005 SAFF championship and in the 2007 Nehru cup. Baichung Bhutia runs a chain of football schools named him as the “Baichung Bhutia Football Schools”. Till date this school has two centres in Chandigarh, 7 in Delhi/NCR and one each at Mumbai and Jammu. The coaches at the football schools have been trained not only by Mr. Bhutia himself but also by internationally acclaimed European football academies. Catering to the age group of 5-18 years, the Baichung Bhutia Football Schools aim to take Indian football to unknown heights and is planning to open new centres in other parts of India too. Anuj kumar for instance, a scholar from Mr. Bhutia’s training school was a part of the U-16 Indian football team which participated South Asian Football Federation Championship. He started and ended his career with the East Bengal F.C. in Calcutta joining other teams in between.
Apart from being a footballer, Mr. Bhutia is active in other areas including dancing as well as politics. It came as a surprise to his fans when he emerged victorious in the Season 3 of the Indian dance reality show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa which is the Indian adaptation of the famous international reality show “Dancing with the Stars”. He donated his part of the prize money; 2 million Indian Rupees towards the areas hit by cyclone Aila. When it comes to politics, Mr. Bhutia contested from West Bengal’s Darjeeling seat as a Trinamool Congress candidate against BJP’s S.S Ahluwalia but lost unfortunately. His keen interest in politics is an example of the fact that he is interested in the growth of the country not only by training young football players but also by helping the government as a political leader. In a country like India where sports means cricket, Mr. Bhutia is trying hard to take Indian football to a higher level by means of training eligible students in his football academy. Being honest, when one pictures football in India, Baichung Bhutia is the person that comes into mind.
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