Gangtok: United Sikkim Football Club (USFC) bade farewell to their former founders and current players at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok on Tuesday.
Football icon Bhaichung Bhutia expressed his gratitude to the players for their love and support towards the club in the past 15 years. He also assured his guidance and support to the players in future.
“The club got shut down due to many unavoidable situations but we are always there for the players. You can always come to us during the time of need. We are grateful for your support till date,” said Bhaichung, founder of USFC.
Arjun Rai, co-founder, also thanked the players and management for their support. “Don’t feel we won’t work for you and Sikkim football just because USFC is no more. We are there for you and won’t stop working for the uplift of Sikkim football,” he said.
Sandesh Jhingan, current national team player, when contacted over phone, said, “It’s unfortunate when a club shuts down. USFC is indeed special to me and Sikkim. I can never express in words how thankful I am to Bhaichung Sir and the club for giving an opportunity to a 18-year-old player like me. No matter where I reach in my life even post football, I will be always grateful towards USFC for building and helping me reach this stage. In future, I will genuinely extend my support in bringing USFC back in Indian football,” he said.
Jhingan was with USFC in his initial years of professional football career.
Meanwhile, Nim Tshering Lepcha, a founding player and the first local captain of USFC, expressed his sadness over the shutdown of the club and recalled how it helped him reach where he is today.
“The news came in as a big blow to me. USFC has given me all the professional football experience and fame. USFC is like a family to me. I will miss playing for this giant. The founding members might have calculated everything before coming to this conclusion and we respect it. No doubt Sikkim football ratio is hampered,” Lepcha said.
Another founding player Jigmee Bhutia added how the news came in as a shocker to him and for the fans. “I am extremely sad with the news and feeling really anxious. It’s nature’s rule that every beginning has an end but we never expected such an early end of our loving club USFC,” he said.
The players present were handed over track suits and jerseys of the club as a tribute for their support throughout.