Around 30 football academies in Sikkim and neighbouring towns of Darjeeling and Kalimpong are competing against each other during the u-14 Snow Lion Cup being hosted by United Sikkim FC this month. In January, the Bhaichung Bhutia-led club is also organizing a month-long free coaching camp for over 1,000 kids in different areas of Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills.
Both the Snow Lion Cup for under-14 kids and coaching camps, sponsored by State Bank of India and Indian Football Foundation, also carries dreams of extracting a couple of talents that could represent the nation in the U-17 World Cup being hosted by India in 2017.
“These two events are the biggest ever football grassroots football development activities in the Hills. It is historic. United Sikkim FC is committed to promote football at grassroots levels and to spot talents. Last year we could not do much as we were busy with ILeague.
This time, we are not in I-League that gives us time to focus on promoting football in the rural areas,” said Bhaichung in a press conference.
The Snow Lion Cup
The Snow Lion Cup leg for Sikkim starts at Paljor Stadium from December 14. The Darjeeling leg is scheduled from December 19 while the Kalimpong leg is from December 22.
The winner of each group will then play against each other to determine the Snow
Lion Cup winners, said tournament director Thupden Rapgyal Bhutia in a press conference here.
Each match is of 50 minutes duration in the tournament organized in a league format.
Teams featuring in the Sikkim leg are North District Football Association (Mangan), Sanju Pradhan football academy (Sombaria), Dzongu Academy, Boys Club Academy (Gangtok), Sikkim Himalayan SC (Gangtok), GVS FA (Pendam), Namthang FA, Melli Dara Academy, Gangtok FA and JNV Pakyong.
“Altogether 23 matches would be held at Paljor Stadium for Sikkim academies. We plan to complete the Sikkim leg in 3-4 days,” said Thupden Rapgyal.
A dozen academies are lined up for Darjeeling leg to be played at St Joseph’s ground while in Kalimpong, the organizers have shortlisted eight teams at Mela Ground.
Bhaichung informed that all the teams would be provided with free transportation, accommodation (in case of teams far away from the venue) and food. The Snow Lion Cup winner will receive a cash prize of Rs. 30,000 and the runners up will get Rs. 20,000 while the third positioned team will get Rs. 10,000, he said.
The battle of under-14 kids from Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong does not end with the Snow Lion Cup. The organizers have planned to select best 20 talents among these academies for a special camp under United Sikkim for around 20 days.
“We will also be taking them to exposure trips and tournaments outside Sikkim. They could be taken to Delhi to train and play with students of Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools,” said United Sikkim senior manager Arjun Rai.
United Sikkim FC is also holding a month-long coaching Warm Winter for Football camp in January for kids up to 16 years in different parts of Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Around 500 kids from Sikkim are expected to participate in the camps to be held in North, West and South districts and another 500 kids would be attending the camps at Lebong ground in Darjeeling and Mela ground in Kalimpong.
“Schools in the hills are presently on a long winter vacation. We need to keep the kids occupied in healthy activities during the winter break. This camp will help them channelize their energy in positive things,” said Bhaichung.
The camps would not be charging any entry fees. The participants will be provided with free kits and coaches from outside the State along with local coaches are providing trainings. “Football talents are mostly found in rural areas. We want to provide them proper training and groom best talents through the camps,” said Bhaichung.
“I hope we get talents from these two events. The biggest dream for us to have 2-3 kids coming from these two events would go on to play for the nation in the u-17 World Cup being hosted by India in 2017. If it happens, it will be our biggest satisfaction,” said Bhaichung.
Bhaichung thanked Thupden Rapgyal for his support to both the events. He also thanked the State Bank of India and Indian Football Association for their generous sponsorship for both the coaching camps and the Snow Lion Cup football tournament.
Courtesy : http://isikkim.com