#Inspiration

Coach Thockchom’s Endeavour is to turn Andro into Soccer Village

Bikram Thockchom

“I have started a mission—Mission 2027 to take India to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027. It includes a total of 37 academies across all states and union territories,” says Bikram Thockchom. Living in East Imphal, Manipur, he is the Chairman of Soccer Foundation. Thockchom is also the President of Andro Mahila Mandal Association Football Club (AMMA FC) India.

Founded in 1999 by 100 members from the AMMA, it is one of the few registered Women’s Football Club in India. Since then it has registered over 300 girl players with State Football Association and currently trains around 50 girls regularly in the age group of 10 – 17 years.

Thockchom and other football enthusiasts work towards transforming the identity of their village, Andro, as a soccer village in the country.

“We have turned Andro into a soccer village supported by the Village Committee. It also engages in pilot projects to become a model for India to train 5000 girls under 12 years for over a decade,” stated Thockchom while talking about his campaign to take India to FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Bikram Thockchom

Girls Kick Off- Bikram Thockchom

In April this year, AMMA FC sent a team of seven players from three schools to participate in the Under 19 Doon Women’s Cup. The championship was an inter-school competition where 13 schools participated. And the AMMA FC team won the Cup at Hopetown Girls’ School, Dehradun.

Talking about the selection of children, Thockchom said, “We look at all children as privileged and don’t like to discriminate while selecting them to learn and play football. Our greatest belief is empowerment through self-reliance and that is what we teach our kids through the game as well.”

AMMA FC has a cooperative through which it raises funds to keep the training going for the children of Andro village. They bring all the essentials that the girls needs and also encourage their parents to support their daughters in playing football, Thockchom told SheThePeople.TV.

Bikram Thockchom

AMMA FC girls

For Thockchom, football relates to a human sport as he likes to call it.

“We are not interested in what others feel about the game and call it underrated or a minority. We play and train because we have fun. From the first kick in the mother’s womb, it’s pure joy.”

ALSO READ: I Was The Only Girl Among 20 Boys Playing Football: Sanaya Anklesaria

The passionate Football enthusiast, Thockchom believes that women’s football will take half the time it took men’s team to reach where they are today.

“The game is a platform to express the changed mindset among girls. They need more playing opportunity to escalate that the change must happen in families, community, schools, etc. Future of football is female,” he added. While, Thockchom isn’t against other games. He started playing football very early in life. That’s why he is so attached to the game and wants to train more people. And while thinking about it, he realized why to discard girls from having such an exciting experience? That’s when he thought of establishing a Football Club for girls and start training them as well.

“The government should ban all political persons from holding a position in the sports clubs and associations. The Education ministry must instruct all schools in India to respect sports teachers. They must keep their names on the top on the teacher’s list of the schools for a year.” -Bikram Thockchom

Majorly, girls from schools, community clubs and NGOs join the football club.

He talked about how the sports community and the government can have a catalytic effect on the game. Thockchom feels, “Sports community must build an eco-system that has a long-term vision for girls to become professionals.”

“The government should ban all political persons from holding a position in the sports clubs and associations. The Education Ministry must instruct all schools in India to respect sports teachers. They must keep their names on the top on the teacher’s list of the schools for a year. The Sports Ministry must make it a rule that schools must grade and account for games period,” he added in his list initiatives that the sports community and the government must take up to ensure greater awareness about sports in India.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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