Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Sunday appealed to the state sports department and All India Football Federation (AIFF) to provide financial aid to Sikkim Football Association (SFA) for the all round development of the sport in the state.
Bhaichung said football was the main sport for the Sikkimese youth but the state has not even been able to send its team to national events due to lack of funds. "Indian football captain Sunil Chettri was also discovered from the Santosh Trophy platform but it is sad to see that talent from Sikkim not being able to compete in these prestigious tournaments due to the lack of finances," Bhaichung said at a press conference.
Sikkim did not send its team for Santosh Trophy in the last outing because of financial problems and lack of training camp facilities outside the state. "The weather in Sikkim is very cold but the tournaments are held in states where the weather is around 40 degrees. To make a capable team, we have to have training camps for our players outside the state for certain periods before a tournament, only then will we succeed," said the legendary footballer.
Bhaichung mentioned that Sikkim Cricket Association received around Rs 15 crore annually from the BCCI for the development of cricket in the state. "If the same type of funding is provided to SFA, then there will be no looking back (for football in the state)," he said.
He also appealed to the state sports department to dedicate a stadium in Khel Gaon in East Sikkim to SFA where the association can carry out training and coaching camps for the various age group footballers, be it for men or women.