Sachin Tendulkar is the reason people in the North-East follow cricket: Bhaichung Bhutia

Baichung Bhutia says people in the North East are crazy about Sachin Tendulkar © IANS

By Rutvick Mehta

Nov 7, 2013

Former India football captain Baichung Bhutia says people in ‘Seven Sister States’ follow cricket only because of batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.

“Cricket in the North-East is no sport. People follow very little cricket,” said former India football captain Bhutia.

But when the Little Master will be showered with rose petals and balloons at the Eden Gardens, a group of people in the north-east are also likely to watch his final steps.

Why? “They are crazy about Sachin,” asserted the footballer who hails from that region.

Bhutia, who is considered to be the torchbearer of Indian football in the international arena — much like Tendulkar is to cricket — added “it is only because of Sachin that people watch whatever cricket they do here. That just goes to show what Sachin is.”

Like the maestro, Bhutia’s career also took off when he was 16, when he quit his school in Sikkim to join East Bengal Club in Calcutta [now Kolkata] in 1993. Three years younger to Tendulkar, the Bhutia followed the cricketing legend’s career right from his teens. “I started watching cricket only due to Sachin,” he says.

Ask Bhutia what is the secret of Tendulkar’s incredible longevity at the international level, and pat comes the reply, “It’s all about dedication, hard work and passion.”

The striker, who decided to put an end to his international career in 2010, has since founded the Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools in New Delhi, where top-level football coaching is provided to kids within the age group of 5 to 18 years. So does he see Tendulkar doing something similar post retirement?

“It is entirely up to Sachin on what he wants to do,” Bhutia signs off.

(Rutvick Mehta chose to become a journalist for his love of sports in general, and cricket in particular — the purity of Test cricket, to be precise. Tennis and hockey also excites him equally. The above article first appeared in DNA)