Dimapur, January 29: In commemoration of the 100th birth anniversary of Dr T Ao, a memorial lecture in honour of him was delivered by former Indian football captain, Bhaichung Bhutia – recipient of Padma Shri and Arjuna Award and the only Indian in the Asian Football Confederation’s Hall of Fame – on January 28 at Durbar Hall, Raj Bhavan, Kohima.
Bhaichung Bhutia shared about his personal experiences besides other difficulties and challenges faced by the North east footballers, citing Dr T Ao as an example when Indian football was mostly dominated by Bengalis during the 1940s and 1950s. “Having played in a big club like Mohan Bagan and East Bengal, and then went on to captain Indian football team to London Olympics in 1948 was indeed an honour,” he said. He added that being a member and player of Mohan Bagan and East Bengal during the 1940s and 1950s especially for the North easterners was a matter of great pride and privilege as the clubs back then were considered as the most prestigious clubs in the country. He said Dr T Ao was a man who excelled not only in football and athletics but also in academics, thereby, leaving a legacy for the coming generations to emulate.
Bhutia speaking on ‘Nagaland Football’ said over the years Nagaland failed to produce prominent players at national level after Dr T Ao for which he was disappointed to see the performances of Nagaland as a State yet he expressed hope that it is never too late to start from now onwards. He expressed desire to see players coming from Nagaland like the neighbouring state of Manipur. He added that today North East is called the ‘capital of Indian Football’ and many North east players from different states have come out in different age groups at national level but sadly not seen any players from Nagaland.
He urged the players that it’s time to start working on it instead of just complaining about it. Mentioning that he himself was from a very remote area where he grew up playing football with no proper ground, no television to watch football matches and what football is all about, he attributed the success of his career in football to environment, culture and tradition of Sikkim in those days besides the inspiration he received from watching tournaments conducted during special occasions.
He pointed that there will be challenges in terms of infrastructure or platforms but said that everything starts with a small beginning and so if passion, hard work and the talent is put together then Nagas are bound to do well. He appealed to young Naga players to never say impossible but urged them to be positive because everything is possible.
Abu Metha, while delivering an introductory remark said Dr T Ao’s name was forever paged in the lines of Indian sports, un-erasable leaving a landmark and a milestone for all the generation to come. He was an example who excelled not only in sports but also the ambassador for young people, he said.
Metha speaking on Bhutia said that he is an iconic figure of Indian sports and a footballer who followed the footsteps of Dr T Ao.
Vote of thanks was proposed by President, Nagaland Football Association, Atuo Mezhur.
(Page News Service)