Not so long ago Ong Tshering Lepcha was dubbed as the next Bhaichung Bhutia by the Sikkimese Media. He was playing for Churchill Brothers back then and had also represented the India Under-20 team as the Captain, but an unfortunate knee injury threatened to cut short his career in the year 2007. It was a routine pre-season training at Churchill Brothers which turned the fortunes of this promising youngster the wrong way. While playing the practice game Ong went in to win a fifty-fifty ball but his team mate made a clumsy tackle and Ong went down to the ground feeling an excruciating pain on his right knee. The team Physio took stock of the situation and found out that Ong had suffered a major Injury on his right knee and he was taken to Mumbai for further treatment. Dr Anant Joshi, the famous Sports Injury expert observed him and advised him to take complete bed rest for six months as he had suffered a major knee ligament tear. Rehabilitation process would take another six months.
After spending few days in Mumbai Ong returned to Goa and spend his days at the Club’s flat. This was a very frustrating period as he was not able to do what he loved the most, play football. During away matches he used to be all alone in his flat as his team mates used to travel to other cities. His only companion used to be the cook with whom he became good friends over the six month period. This was a major injury but Ong did not require an operation. He was confident that he would make a complete recovery and never during this period any negative thoughts crossed his mind.
After six months of complete bed rest Ong moved to Kolkata where he started his rehabilitation process which lasted for four months. After that he felt that he could start off with some light weight training. He started regular gym session and within two months he felt confident that he had made a complete recovery. But he had still not touched the ball till now which is the most important part of this recovery process. Ong understood this and started training with the ball, initially he was not that comfortable but slowly he started to feel that he was getting back his touch.
2009 proved to be the comeback year for Ong when he joined the Delhi Club, Indian Nationals where his name was put forward by Bhaichung Bhutia. He didn’t play too many matches for them but he gained full confidence. Now the memory of that dreadful injury had faded away.
After a season with Indian Nationals. Ong joined BMFC Mumbai in 2010 but things didn’t move smoothly there and he joined another Mumbai side Kenkre FC on loan and played in the recently concluded 2nd Division I-League qualifiers.
Now Ong is back home in Sikkim and is training regularly at the Paljor Stadium with an aim to join one of the I-League Clubs next season. He has Captained India Under 16 and Under 20 National teams in the past and has also scored a few International goals so he is also looking forward to win back that India Jersey once again. This time it would be the senior team jersey. Ong has seen it all at this very young age. From the highs of playing for India and Churchill Brothers to the lows of playing with amateur players in the parks of Kolkata during his recovery period. At the moment the media seems to have forgotten Ong but he has no complains as he is confident that it’s just a matter of few more months that he’ll start hitting the headlines once again as they say, Form is temporary but the class is permanent.
Saurabh Rai is based in Kolkata. He did his schooling from Tashi Namgyal Academy, Gangtok
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*Disclaimer: The above article is a reproduction of the same article published on Saurabh’s blog lateybhakundo.blogspot.com