Need to give football players the right exposure: Baichung Bhutia

Shillong, May 30 (PTI) Former India captain Baichung Bhutia on Monday said the football scenario in the country is changing quite a lot and the players need to be given the right exposure.

He said the north east region has a lot of sports talent.

The football scenario in India is changing quite a lot and the opportunities are much more. We need to make sure that the players are given the right exposure, Bhutia told PTI at the sidelines of the inauguration of the Baichung Bhutia Football School (BBFS) here at the Assam Riffles Public School.

He said the aim of starting the BBFS was to ensure that the young talents get the right exposure to football at the right age.

Excited for the official exchange of MoU for running a professional football school at the Assam Riffles Public School here, Bhutia said the north east region has a lot of sports talent.

For us the NE region is where the talent is. It is important to start a centre here. We are looking at promoting and supporting a lot of players, he said.

The aim of the BBFS is to provide support and guidance to a lot of players with the support of the Government of India through its Khelo India Programme.

Recalling that during his teen days there were no formal training and exposure, Bhutia said he was lucky to be spotted during a match and taken by SAI. He urged the authorities to give their best to ensure that the right exposure is given to the right talents.

Under the BBFS football programme, seven boys from the ARPS are playing for India in the different categories regularly, he said, adding that about 30 students are enjoying 100 per cent scholarship of the BBFS.

At the BBFS/APRS, four boys from Meghalaya including one from Tura and two girls from Shillong are part of the BBFS scholarship programme.

Bhutia said “we need to make sure that the players are given the right exposure. At BBFS, we are doing our best. My own son is enrolled as a boarder at the BBFS-Gurgaon. He is 12. I am giving him the exposure since he wanted to play football.”

Assam Rifles Director General Lt Gen Pradeep Chandran Nair in his address at the formal exchange of an MoU between the AR and the BBFS said, North East India is a true powerhouse of sports and has produced notable sportsman including Olympic medalists. The talent of the local youths towards football is the way forward for the future of the Indian Football.

Over 100 footballers from North East region, primarily from Manipur and Mizoram are playing at the top football league in India at the moment and no club is complete without a player from the region, he said.

Established in 1980, the Assam Rifles Public School is run by the Assam Rifles Welfare Education Society. In 2021 the school was converted into a Sports School with an aim to harness the rich sports potential of the youth of the North East.