‘If you want to rate me…..winning is my rating’,
NEW DELHI, December 7
Mother’s hand made kheer (porridge) loving and a Bhaichung Bhutia fan, Sikkimese footballer Nirmal Chettri shot to national limelight when, at a tender age of 22, he went on to represent India’s national football team last week on December 5, 2011. A product of Sikkim government’s ‘Search for More Bhaichung’ scheme Nirmal Chettri has don many caps in a little more than a decade old career which started when he was just 10.
Born on 21st of October 1990, at Melli Bazar in Sikkim, Nirmal Chettri joined Namchi Sports Hostel after being selected in Sikkim government’s ‘Search for More Bhaichung’ scheme in the year 2000. Since then he never looked back.
Befor finally making his beautiful Himalayan state proud by donning the national cap Nirmal played for Kolkata giants East Bengal. On December 5, 2011 Nirmal made his international debut against Bhutan during the the SAFF Games in New Delhi. He was brought in place of Sameer Naik.
Interacting over the phone with Sikkim Mail, iSikkim.com’s content partner, Nirmal said that it is a long journey to remember and he was a proud to get this moment for him and his family. It’s a dream come true.
‘I am grateful to all the coaches, players, and friends who supported me throughout my football life. I don’t have words to express besides a big thank you to you all. Please do keep supporting’, said Chettri to Sikkim Mail.
Talking about his memorable experience, he said,, “The first was when I wore National Team jersey during the final of U-14 Subroto Mukherjee Cup at Delhi in 2002. My first International Tournaments in South Korea called Interreligious Peace Sports Festival (IPSF) with Namchi Sports Hostel in 2004 was another great moment of my life.”
To start with, Chettri was a member of the winning team in the U-14 Sikkim League. Chettri represented Namchi Sports Hostel in U-14 Subroto Cup and was awarded National Talent Scholarships for 3 consecutive years. He was part of the team in the year 2002 when Sikkim lost the final of U-14 Subroto Cup to Mizoram in a close encounter (2-1). Chettri attended U-14 National Camp at Jamshedpur, Jharkhand in 2003 and again in 2004. He also represented NSH in Chief Minister Gold Cup at Namchi and in the same year represented NSH in IPSF at South Korea.
Chettri went on to become a member of the winning side at the All India Rural Sports Festival at Siliguri, West Bengal. However, things began to take concrete shape in the year 2005 when he represented U-17 India team in exposure trip to Portugal and Sports Academy of Sikkim in Mini SAARC at Gangtok. Later Chettri became part of the Sikkim team in the Santosh Trophy held at Gurgoan and Chennai.
The real break for Nirmal Chettri came in the year 2007 when he was scouted by Air India Mumbai club for his excellent performance on the field. He went on to represent the club in I-League, Federation Cup, Mumbai League and Durand Cup. Gaining techniques and experience with time he represented U-19 National team at Germany. In the year 2008 Chettri signed the country’s renowned club East Bengal and played for the club in the AFC Cup at Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. His last assignment before he moved to the national team was with Kingfisher East Bengal F.C. in 2009 after two seasons at the Mumbai based club Air India FC.
The year 2011 has proved to be a dream run for Nirmal Chettri. In 2011 he became part of the U-23 National Football Team for Pre Olympic Qualifier, became runner-up in the I-League, was shortlisted for the national Team camp for Indo-Pak series, was part of the winning team in Super Cup at Delhi and most importantly represented the National team for the first time in a friendly against Zambia.
Nirmal’s well deserved international debut came this week against Bhutan in SAFF Championship 2011 at Delhi when he rubbed soldier against fellow Sikkimese and national football hero Sunil Chettri. Nirmal again played in the Thursday, December 7th clash against Sri Lanka. India won both the matches against Bhutan (5-0) and Sri Lanka (3-0).
Last year Nirmal’s mom left this world. It was a nightmare for the footballer who wanted her mother to see him in the national team. A tribute is on the cards as Nirmal Chettri looks to found a football academy in memory of his mother in his hometown.
Claiming to be a born striker Nirmal says, ‘If you want to rate me…..winning is my ratings’. Bravo boy. Keep going.