- Bhaichung Bhutia is a footballing legend in India
- He is encouraged by the growth of women’s football in the country
- “Sport teaches you a way of life,” he says
Bhaichung Bhutia has been synonymous with Indian football for a long time now. The Indian football legend has accumulated over 100 international caps for the country and is buoyed by the growth of women’s football in India in recent years, not just as an active stakeholder in the sport, but also as a father to two daughters.
“It’s great that we have the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup coming to India in 2022. This is a stepping stone for us for to build on grassroots football in the country,” says Bhutia, who also founded the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools a decade ago, where his son is also enrolled.
“We need to focus on grassroots football for both girls and boys. The tournament will definitely motivate younger girls to get into the game. Participants off the field watching the tournament will play an important role, too.”
Bhutia’s daughters Samara (9) and Keisha (10) are both active players, with the supportive influence of their father. They currently enjoy gymnastics, swimming and of course, playing football. Nine-year-old Samara is a tough defender who likes to tackle everyone in sight and, Keisha, a year older, is the highest goalscorer of her locality.
“Sports teaches you a way of life. It makes you understand from a young age, how to be a team person, and how to win and lose. Every parent would want their kid to be healthy, active and playing some kind of sport. It’s important that parents show that kind of interest and get involved in encouraging them. You don’t need them to become a professional sportsperson if you don’t want them to be, but they must remain fit and healthy”.
This article is part of our series focused on women’s football, and women in football, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021. To find out more about FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy and Development Programmes, and to read more articles like this, click here.