A proud moment for the entire country a few days back when India lifted the SAFF CUP at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. Football is a team sport so the credit for the victory should go to all the team members but I just can’t help mentioning Nirmal Chettri’s name here. This boy from the hills of Sikkim, whom I had seen for the very first time at Gangtok during the SAARC Inter Academy Football Tournament in 2005 and again in the Governor’s Gold Cup,2006 both the times playing for the Sports Academy of Sikkim has shown to all the aspiring young footballers from this part of the country that if you dream big and compensate that will hard work and discipline you can reach your target.
I have known Nirmal for quite a few years now and he has always proved to be a nice human being whenever I have got the opportunity to meet him, humble and down to earth, may be this attitude of his has helped him achieve so much at such a young age. Our last meeting was at Kalimpong in July when he had visited this place on an invitation from the Kalimpong Sports Association as the special guest for one of the matches played at the Sahid Cup. Humble person he is as soon as he reached Kalimpong he had given me a call and we met up at one of the Coffee shops. Though Nirmal doesn’t like to talk too much about football when he is away from the game, I always take the conversation towards that topic. We chatted for almost an hour and I still remember talking about his chances of making it to the India senior side. I had always believed that Nirmal could fit into the Senior team and I had told him then “Bro you can get that blue jersey very soon” to which he had just nodded with a smile. Now Nirmal is a Senior International player.
One good virtue of Nirmal as a footballer, I feel is that he can adjust in any role. He had started off as a striker when he was a kid, then moved to mid-field and finally settled as a stopper when he joined Air India, Now in the SAFF CUP he was used as a full back. This role was not new to him as he had already played many games for East Bengal in that position. A lesson for every young footballer that you should be comfortable playing in at least one other positions along with your preferred role.
Now Nirmal has started another phase of his career as an international footballer and I am sure he’ll keep on playing well and win even more trophies with the National team. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch him play till now. From his Academy days (when I had not even know his name and had remarked to a friend “That Stopper Guy is a wonderful player”) later I had found out it was Nirmal Chettri. Now I know a lot more about Nirmal and even the whole country knows. This Boy from Melli a small town of Sikkim bordering West Bengal has indeed announced his arrival in International football and I wish him all the very best for this new journey of his. Go on Nirmal there is more for you to achieve.