Bhaichung Bhutia to have stadium named after him

Bhaichung Bhutia, who was the first Indian footballer to play 100 international matches, will have a stadium named after him in Sikkim.

Bhaichung Bhutia Football Stadium

Bhaichung Bhutia Football Stadium is located in Namchi -- 25 kilometres from the legendary footballer's birthplace.   -  AIFF

Bhaichung Bhutia is set to become the first Indian footballer to have a stadium named after him.

The stadium is situated in Namchi -- 25 kilometres from the legendary footballer's birthplace, Tinkitam in the district of South Sikkim.

"It's our tribute to one of the best Indian footballers. Even after hanging his boots, Bhaichung Bhutia has been a role model to many and he will continue to inspire young footballers of India, let alone Sikkim. We can't repay for what he has done for Indian football. But a stadium named after him might be a small homage towards the great footballer," Menla Ethenpa, president of the Sikkim Football Association told the the-aiff.com.

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Bhaichung, who was the first Indian footballer to play 100 international matches, said,  "I'm very much honoured and excited. If you look at the larger picture I'm happier because the budding footballers will get another top-class facility and infrastructure to play football. This stadium has produced many footballers including me. I have so many memories of playing there."

Bhaichung Bhutia Football Stadium

The artificial turf at the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Stadium has already been laid and stands with a 15,000-capacity have also been made.   -  AIFF

 

He added that he has submitted a proposal to establish an academy in the vicinity of the stadium.

"We have already spoken with the State Government about setting up a football academy. It will be a joint venture between the government and United Sikkim -- the biggest semi-professional football club in this region. It'll provide a platform for the youths to play football. We look forward to hosting Golden Baby Leagues too," said the Padma Shri awardee.

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The groundwork of the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Stadium started in the 2010s before it faced roadblocks owing to financial difficulties. The construction work resumed after Prem Singh Tamang, current chief minister of Sikkim, assumed office.

"Our chief minister is an avid football supporter and took an interest to fast-track the construction. Had the COVID-19 pandemic situation not disturbed the entire scenario, the stadium could have already been inaugurated," added Ethenpa.

The artificial turf has already been laid besides the setting up the 15,000-capacity stands. Ethenpa added that floodlights would be installed in the second phase of work.

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