Bhaichung Bhutia: PIOs should be allowed to play for India

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Bhaichung Bhutia is a synonym of Indian Football in modern times. The Sikkimese legend has managed to find fame and recognition in a land where football is rarely glanced upon by the people, and there’s no secret to this recipe. His hardwork and resilience has motored him to the peak of sporting recognition in India. And when he speaks, people just have to listen.

The inclusion of Players of Indian Origin (PIO) is a topic which is being debated upon fervorously by the fans. After National Team coach Igor Stimac advocated their inclusion in the team, fans are having polarised opinions about the same. On one hand, a section of fans believe that the team needs a boost in the quality and having PIOs would do so, others believe that going against the Constitution for one particular sport is not correct. But looks like Bhaichung Bhutia belongs to the former.

Bhaichung Bhutia PIOs

While speaking on the Indian Super League’s Let’s Football Live show, Bhaichung was in support of the PIOs.

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“Players of Indian Origin should be allowed if they are good. If they want to play for India, and are willing to give up their citizenship of other country, then they should play.”

He spoke at great length about how it will help India in the short term. He believes that the quality of the team needs to increase in the coming years and addressed the fact that there are many Indian origin players with good quality.

(Read about some unknown Indian origin players

Bhaichung had a very valid reason to justify his point.

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“If the team loses, then people lose interest and the kids(who want to become footballers) get negative (about football in India).”
What Bhaichung said is the reality which many fans come across on a daily basis. Majority of Indians have given up or don’t follow Indian football because of bad results, and including PIOs might solve that problem.

yan dhanda
Yan Dhanda is one of the most prominent PIOs in recent times.

He also shed light upon the time when Michael Chopra, famous English footballer, joined the Indian team in Dubai for some time when Bob Houghton was the manager, though it didn’t work out eventually.

Like many of us, Bhaichung too believes that the National Team needs to do better if the players want to get noticed by teams of foreign leagues.

“India needs to reach the quarterfinals or semifinals of the Asian Cup if the players want to get noticed. Players should look to go in not just the big European leagues but also the leagues in Qatar, UAE, Japan and other top Asian countries. These leagues have good standards as well.”

While the possibility of PIOs playing for India is less, these players with their vital experience and brilliant quality would help the team to usher into a new era of excellence and unparalleled success.
In the same session, Bhaichung also talked about football in his state.

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Born in the football-loving state of Sikkim, Bhutia had a childhood which was spent in playing football. Bhaichung talked about how every village in Sikkim played no sport other than football. People talked about football only, and the local players were their heroes.

Bhaichung had admiration for one particular Indian player which doesn’t come across as a surprise. I.M. Vijayan had won the hearts of many players and fans, and Bhaichung was one of them. His struggle, hardwork and story made him adore Vijayan, and it was no doubt that his best playing days would involve the ‘Black Pearl’.

“The first ever National Football League in 1996-1997 was one of the best seasons of my career. Jo Paul Anchari, I.M. Vijayan and I were playing together for JCT that season.”

Bhaichung Bhutia undoubtedly knows what is best for Indian football, and maybe, what he believes is the correct thing to do so.

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Harsh Murarka
A Mumbai City FC and Indian football supporter. Liked sports, wrote fairly decent, and turned into a part time football writer in a matter of time. Couldn't have had it better.

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