Sikkim Football Association president Menla Ethenpa and other officials addressing a press meet on the upcoming football tournament in Gangtok Credit: EastMojo image

Gangtok: The 39th edition of All India Governor’s Gold Cup will commence from November 1-12 at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, where chief minister PS Golay is likely to be the chief guest. A total of 12 teams are participating out of which three are local teams.

However, football lovers will be disappointed to know that the crowd-pulling Nepal teams won’t be participating this time.

During a press conference at Press Club of Sikkim on Wednesday, Menla Ethenpa, president of Sikkim Football Association (SFA), said that 12 teams likely to participate – Md Sporting Club Kolkata, ATK (R), Jamshedpur (R), Punjab Police XI, Army (Red), BSS Sporting Club, Eastern Railways, Khidderpore Sporting Club, East Bengal Academy, Sikkim Himalayan SC, Sikkim Police and State Sports Academy.

In the absence of Nepal football clubs, Ethenpa said, “We tried our best to reach out to the clubs in Nepal through All Nepal Football Federation but they did not respond to us. At the last minute, they agreed on sending one new team to which we disagreed due to the delay in confirmation from their side”.

We know it is not good news for the football lovers but the absence of Nepal football clubs should not hold them back as we have top teams from the country and three local teams to display a good show, he added.

“SFA is going through a financial constraint plus some of our members were demoralised when the local players turned against us. But the fact is we are working under the rules of AIFF and therefore we are here today,” he said.

Regarding the on-going tussle between SFA and Football Players Association of Sikkim (FPAS), Ethenpa said, “Being a football body FPAS has officially not registered under SFA, so we won’t entertain their matter. They claim to work for the welfare of the players but their steps of boycotting Santosh trophy and the local tournaments are totally against Sikkimese footballers and Sikkim football. Also, the welfare of players is associated with the clubs, not SFA. They messed up with SFA unnecessarily.”

He further pointed out that ISL player cum FPAS president Nirmal Chettri’s decision of convincing the local players to boycott the tournaments was unethical and illogical.
“Senior players like him should have understood the value of participating in Santosh trophy. Our players missed a golden opportunity of showing their talent and getting jobs in future,” he added.

Ethenpa further showed his confidence over the participation of three local teams in the upcoming Governor’s Gold Cup despite the brawl between SFA and local players and clubs. “They have agreed in participating and we are hopeful they won’t back off,” he said.

On the decision of banning Sikkim Aakraman FC, Ethenpa said it was a disciplinary action.

“Aakraman was banned under disciplinary action but if they had applied to our appeal committee then the decision might have been in their favour. However, Aakraman never tried to reach out to the appeal committee,” he added.

On the opening day of the tournament, students will get free entry to the hillside gallery if they show their school or college ID cards. From the second day, the tournament will be played at 2 in the afternoon.

The entry fees is Rs 70 (hillside gallery), Rs 100 (north and south stand), Rs 150 (main gallery).

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