Picturesque landscapes, snowcapped peaks and a football at your feet may not be how we spend an average day. But if you are from Ladakh, that just might be a common sight. Ladakhi’s love for football, although not very well documented, is still well known.
Harpreet Bedi, a former National player and professional coach, who is currently in Ladakh for a scouting project had lots to say about the talent and passion for the game in the hills. A group of upcoming coaches held training sessions for both coaches as well as players in the region.
As many as fifteen coaches turned up for the training sessions, who were, Skarma Lotus, Stanzin Tsepak, Tsewang Nurboo, Tenzin Kunga, Tsewang Dorjai Stanzin Tsangtsas, Stanzin Lexdup, Tundup Namgial, Stanzin Jigmet, Stanzin Chosphel, Stanzin Wangdut, Stanzin Gilik, Dorjey Baku, Rinchen Angchok, Tsewang Norbu.
The comprehensive training sessions for the coaches covered several aspects on how to conduct football sessions, circuit training, basic football training and how to make session plans.
One of the trainee coaches, Dorjey Baku is also a professional player who trained with Minerva Academy and went on to represent Himachal FC, the Himachal Football League champions of 2020-21.
Bedi, who has seen his fair share of pupils, having been a coach for various league winning youth teams, was surprised to see that the training sessions for the coaches also attracted the younger age groups. That too in the middle peak winter when even the snow didn’t stop the eager learners.
The players who had turned up for scouting were nearly hundred in number from age groups upwards of five years to 19. There were seventeen players for the women’s team. Among them, several promising talents were identified who were then sent to Sudeva FC for their women’s team. Out of them, Stonskit Dolma, Jigmet Chunzen, Sonam Angmo and Tsering Dolker played in the Delhi League for Sudeva FC, Jigmet Chunzen, even captained the side.
It’s surprising to think that these players who turned up for the scouting program ending up playing for a club in a short period of time, this speaks volumes about the kind of talent that the players in Ladakh possess.
The youth teams were no different, the trained eye of Harpreet Bedi could easily identify players who could walk into various youth I-League teams in India. Nearly a hundred young players in the age groups of 5-11 and 12-15 have been trained by the group of coaches in this period of time.
Although an uncharted territory on the Indian football map, with an unmatched passion for the game, Ladakh is a pandora box of talent waiting for recognition. Now even with some professional training thanks to Bedi and his team. As a football fan, one can only hope that the vast talent pool in the Ladakh region is identified by the right clubs. And who knows, we might end up finding another Tsering Dolker, who became the first women’s footballer from Ladakh to be playing in the Indian Women’s League.