“We will even beg for the future of Sikkimese football”: FPAS
In a press address yesterday May 3, Football Players Association of Sikkim (FPAS) were utterly deprecatory of the way Sikkim Football Association executive committee were in shambles and had shown mismanagement that didn’t reciprocate with the love that rest of Sikkim shows towards football.
Seasoned football players like Nirmal Chettri, Sanju Pradhan, Robin Gurung, Nim Tshering Lepcha, Phurba Tempa Lachenpa, Pintso Sherpa, Balaram Pradhan and others were the ones present in the address to the media at Journalists Union of Sikkim (JUS) office. The FPAS also were condemnatory about how there was internal disharmony amongst SFA themselves. Talking about how the address was not called for anyone’s benefits or to take a stand against anyone but to speak about the future players’ and Sikkimese football’s welfare. FPAS in their address were subtly adamant in one thing, they demanded a dissolution of SFA.
Dissolution of Sikkim Football Association demanded
Football Players Association of Sikkim (FPAS) executives and members, which as the name clarifies, comprises of national and international football players of Sikkim, both present and former. The body has viscerally demanded the sacking of the old Sikkim Football Association (SFA) executives to pave in the way for the new generation. The FPAS have stated that this demand was looking at the football in Sikkim that has backslid into downtrodden levels and that footballers are migrating into other sports.
“We aren’t here for our personal interests, neither we are here against anyone. We are here to talk about football players and their welfare. Thirty months have passed but there has been no football happening in Sikkim,” FPAS member said. “SFA has been running in an unconstitutional manner and that is hampering the football Sikkim has to offer,” they added.
“Football in Sikkim has slid down to catastrophic levels and we have seen saddening scenes, like many of our (FPAS members’) footballer friends hanging up their boots to go work as taxi drivers, delivery agents, and other odd jobs. The level that Sikkimese football is in has no hopes of revival under SFA,” FPAS members shared their dissatisfaction.
“The SFA president and entire executive committee members should gracefully leave their posts and let a new body be formed with voting rights given to national footballers of Sikkim and the clubs. Let there be a fresh election with a new voting procedure that gives an opportunity to those real stakeholders who want to work for football and footballers. Sikkim football is dying under this present incapable SFA executive body,” said the FPAS members.
FPAS dismissed all the previous “excuses” on why for thirty months the football scene has been stagnant, pointed out that the funds that is in the fixed deposit is “neither SFA president’s nor any single person’s to be kept in a fixed deposit.” Further, they also repudiated the COVID-19 pandemic excuse saying that in the same time there had been activities in other sports’ scenes. Drawing parallels with Sikkimese Cricket, FPAS said that SFA had been “running away” from their responsibilities, while in the same time Sikkimese Cricket had advanced so further.
“This is because Sikkimese Cricket Associations listen to every player, they have given everyone voting rights,” FPAS said.
Saying that conducting activities is the most crucial part of the grooming process of the players and to give them least a chance to get a chance, FPAS members said, “The activities are very important, Cricket in Sikkim has been rather active, and it’s evident. Cricket (in Sikkimese context) has done so well in such a short span. We need to give players activities, like training camps and entry in leagues so they can at least show what they can do. There are so many coaches and staff scouting for players and we don’t even give them a chance to advance.
After a bit of forcing we camped for Santosh Trophy in which our lads (SFA) did so well in the league rounds, we drawed with (West) Bengal, who are playing the finals, that shows we have so much potential, but we need facilities and opportunities that the association should give.”
Naming the young players from Sikkim who’ve played the ISL, played for country, played with leagues, played the world cup (U-17), played all around, FPAS said, “The facilities players find outside the state are something that we should strive to make available for our upcoming generation.”
“The SFA is only interested in holding the Governor’s Gold Cup, that is it, it is all they think of. They’ll wear their coats and come to the big matches, where there are big names present and be radio silent on other days. They are running away from their responsibilities while they should be conducting camps and activities that help Sikkimese footballers grow. It was also embarrassing to see SFA executives blaming each other in a public domain and then agreeing to elect ad-hoc executives, that is against the constitution of the association,” FPAS said.
“During the recent press meet, we heard that the SFA has funds of about 60 lakhs kept as fixed deposit in a bank. That amount is meant for development of football and footballers. Why did the SFA not use this amount for the players and clubs, especially during the Covid pandemic period when all our local professional footballers were at home without any earnings? The amount could also be used for giving decent facilities for our players,” the FPAS further said.
“If there are no funds, we will run for sponsorships, we will even beg for the future of Sikkimese football, if need be,” the FPAS members said.
The FPAS claimed that the body has support from all the footballers and patrons to force a change in SFA, the association members appealed for an intervention from Chief Minister PS Tamang and Government of Sikkim to help bring glory back to Sikkimese football, they said, “We would like to appeal to the CM and the state government to look after Sikkimese football as well, the government has helped bring reforms in many sectors and we are hopeful that they’ll bring reforms in Sikkimese football as well.”
Talking about the recent renovation of Paljor Stadium, and the inability of SFA to conduct any sort of camps or tournaments elsewhere, even the FIFA certified Bhaichung Stadium at Namchi district they said, “If Paljor Stadium is under renovation then the SFA can go ahead and host leagues in other districts. It is not mandatory that leagues should be held in Gangtok. Clubs from West Sikkim and South Sikkim come to play in Gangtok.”
Futher they said, “If SFA organise leagues in Namchi while Paljor Stadium is unavailable then clubs from Gangtok would go to play there. What is the hold-up? Why can’t we hold tournaments in other districts? We see players travelling all the time to play tournaments.”
Answering their own query the FPAS said, “SFA is not interested because almost all its members are in Gangtok and it is convenient for them to hold tournaments in Gangtok. They consider their self-interests before the players.”
The FPAS also urged former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia to come and sit on their side. Saying that an iconic name like him was underused just because of the egos that SFA executives hold, and that he is withering away unused and unheard in SFA as a technical director.
“We feel that the SFA is not utilising an iconic name like Bhaichung, many of us started playing because of him, and it would be so easy for him to bring in brands if we needed sponsors, just his name would be enough to bring in deals from big brands that can help Sikkimese football but it is sad to know that SFA does not listen to Bhaichung’s suggestions because of personal egos.” FPAS said.