These days I am participating in the “Chumey Open” football tournament, as a player in “Upper Chhokhor United” team. Though I am not a skilled footballer, my interest in this sport has me participating in many local tournaments.
My interest in football was ignited by the 1994 world cup, especially the final match between Brazil and Italy. I don’t remember the score, but I certainly remember the place where we watched the match. I was in class VI, and I remember watching the late-night match in a sweaty smoke-filled room inside the Dantak camp in Kanglung. For weeks after that, out ‘baktang-ball’ teams were always Italy and Brazil.
Then fast forward to my first year in NIE, 2002, when our class decided to participate in the then “B.Ed Pry. Cup” tournament organized by the institute. Some of us weren't included in the ‘A’ team, so we decided to form a new football team and named ourselves “Young Jokers”. We consisted of young novice players filled with interest for the game but lacking skills. I was a side-defender, a natural position for an unskilled player. We did entertain the crowd, and we had fun every time we entered the football field.
Then in 2005 when I was placed in Nganglam as a teacher we decided to start a staff football team. Again I was a defender, but after two years of defense, I got promoted to right-winger, thanks to my speed. What I lacked in tackling skills, I made up in speed. There, we would participate in the “Monsoon Tournament” alongside teams from the whole Dungkhag. Naturally, we didn't win any tournament but we did make new friends and have fun.
Coming to Orong in 2008, the football fever in me was highlighted when I found like-minded friends. We would play on Saturdays (no weather bar), sometimes even arranging matches with friends of Pemagatshel, Nangkhor or Deothang institutions. Our matches were fueled by the thought of having fun, and less by ‘keeping ourselves fit’. We even participated in the “Monsoon Tournament” held at Samdrup Jongkhar public ground, though our loss there would make another story.
Last year in Gaselo, my position as a right-winger was protected in our local staff team as I could handle the ball better than my previous years. Participating in the “Bajothang Tournament” was another highlight of my football life-story. I went as a part of ‘Gaseb United’, a team put together by a teacher colleague, and consisting of local out-of-school youth. We played 3 matches but couldn't advance to the knock-out round.
Coming to Jakar, the opportunity for football has lessened because of the cold weather. Still we did play some matches against various local teams from the Hospital, UWICE and Wangduechholing School. And these days since many of my colleagues are busy and bogged down with personal work, I decided to be a part of another local team, “Upper Chhokhor United”.
We played a match last Saturday against a local team which we lost with 2-3. Tomorrow and on Sunday we have our 2nd and 3rd match. We have to drive again to Chumey (some 20 km away) and do our best; once again in the mud and the rain.