Friday, September 5, 2014

The Beautiful Game brightens up office hours!


The Inter-Departmental Football Tournament is playing an inspirational role – motivating Sarkari Babus to come down on the “ground” making time to break the monotony of processing files and introducing the beautiful game to their schedules. Officials and employees of different government departments can now be seen busy in practice every morning and evening at Paljor Stadium, sharing the ground with equally eager but much younger footballers. The Inter-Departmental Football Tournament has become a popular annual event for government employees.
This credit truly goes to the one of the oldest and most popular club of the state, the Boy’s Club which revived this tournament in the year 2012 after it had remained in hibernation for a very long three decades. It is informed that the tournament was last played [before 2012] in the year 1982. It is now into its third season since revival.
The resumption of the tournament has compelled government employees to take out time from their busy schedules to lace up football boots, squeeze into uniform and sweat it out at the ground. It is refreshing to see senior officers and junior staff practicing and playing together to establish better coordination and teamwork. The football, insist the officers, has livened up the offices as well as the camaraderie of the ground continues into the offices.
Initially, the tournament was approached just as a recreation, “time-pass” to break the monotony of deskbound jobs for the government employees. But just in these very few years, the tournament has become very competitive and its participants have become serious sportspersons. While you will find a lot of joviality at the ground during matches, there is never a frivolous moment – everyone is clearly having fun playing serious football.
The tournament has also recorded a substantial increase in the number of teams signing up for each edition. Now, seeing the increasing competition and improved standard of the tournament, the participating departments have even begun scouting within the department for still better players and even going to the districts to source players [from within the same department of course].
In the first edition of the tournament, a total of 21 departments had participated in 2012, which increased to 23 teams in the second edition. In the third edition this year, 29 departments are in the fray! The defending champions this year, Forest Department, has won both the previous tournaments and is clearly the team to beat this year as well.
As an encouragement for players, this time, the number of spectators has also grown manifold.
Boy’s Club general secretary, Nima Thendup, when asked what made them revive the tournament, mentioned that the Club revived the tournament in the hope to encourage government employees towards healthier lifestyles by inculcating a sports culture among them. He added that over the three years, the tournament has been able to encourage government employees stay healthy and “sporty”.
“In the first edition of the tournament most of the players were unfit and we recorded lots of injuries during the matches. Now, the players are much more fit and we have recorded only very few injuries and the tournament standard has also noticeably high,” Mr Thendup said.
He added that with the increase in the level of competition, the participating departments have now been calling in colleagues posted at different parts of the state [this was earlier limited to Gangtok].
“This would also help them know each other better and would ultimately build a good relationship between them as senior officials and junior employees have been playing and practicing together,” he adds.
This tournament is also important for the Boy’s Club as savings from the organizing of the tournament are used to run the boys football academy for U-12, U-14 and U-17 of the Club.
“Savings from the tournament are used to manage the football academy of the club throughout the year,” Boy’s Club coordinator, Basant Gurung said. He said that with the support of the Boy’s Club these children of the academy have been doing well and many of them are now placed in good clubs and academy.
Mr Gurung expressed that this tournament could also help create jobs for sportspersons in different department in the future.
Sports & Youth Affairs Deputy Director [coaching], Thupden Rapgyal, mentions that over these three years, the tournament has not only become more popular but has also made government employees more health conscious and convinced them to stay fit. He points out that even employees who are not playing in the tournament were coming to the stadium for jogging at least to stay fit and healthy. He informed that the stadium is nowadays packed both in the mornings and the evenings with government employees, footballers and other sportspersons.
“Now, in these three years, we were able to inculcate the drive for a healthy life and sports culture among government employees who have now been practicing hard throughout the year for the tournament and to stay healthy and fit as well,” he adds.
Mr Rapgyal mentioned that government employees have now become an inspiration for their children and other family members to stay healthy. “When a senior official makes the effort to come and practice and play, he encourages and inspires his juniors and family members to stay fit and healthy as well,” he added.
Likewise, players of the different departments have appreciated the efforts of the Boy’s Club in reviving the tournament. They expressed that the tournament has given them a platform to play football after a long gap and encouraged them to stay fit.
Food Department midfielder Pintso Namgyal stated that the tournament has given a welcome break from the monotonous file work and employees have become conscious towards health and fitness. “The tournament has also provided a platform to those employees who found themselves distanced from football because of their jobs,” he added.
Mr Namgyal also stated that the tournament has also helped establish better coordination and friendship between different departments as now employees of different departments, even if they competed in matches, were practicing together.
Health Department striker, Ujjal Baraily, expressed that the tournament has not only become refreshing for the government employees but now it has helped employees stay away from unhealthy lifestyles.
Mr Baraily stated that the tournament has also helped them to get to know their colleagues in the districts and established stronger bonding.
Sports & Youth Affairs striker Norden Bhutia expressed that the tournament has been successful in leading government employees towards healthier lifestyles. “The tournament has also helped build up a good rapport and friendship between the employees in the department and with other departments as well apart from playing sports,” he adds.
Likewise, Sports & Youth Affairs stopper KD Lepcha believes that the tournament has created a welcome health consciousness among government employees. The tournament is currently in the league phase

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