The Ballad of Bhaichung Bhutia, a book on football icon and former Indian football team skipper, Bhaichung Bhutia, was officially released by the minister of state of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in New Delhi on Friday.
Bhaichung Bhutia was also present on the occasion.
The book is written by Bhaichung’s biology teacher and dormitory in-charge in Tashi Namgyal Academy, Leonard Lefevre.
The beautiful illustrated are by Chewang Rinchen Lepcha.
Leonard Lefevre, who is popularly known as ‘Sir Lenny’, had served Tashi Namgyal Academy for 19 years as a Biology teacher from 1987 to 2006.
When Bhaichung joined TNA as a scholar of Sports Authority of India in football in 1987, Sir Lenny was his biology teacher and dormitory in-charge.
The book has tried to cover all important instances and memories of Bhaichung’s football journey from his school days to his farewell match against Bayern Munich in 2012 in poetry form and well supported by incredible illustration.
The book also has letters sent by Bhaichung to Sir Lenny while playing outside the State and rare photographs of Bhaichung with Sir Lenny in different occasions.
Speaking to media persons, Lefevre said, “Bhaichung Bhutia is a real living legend and his immense contributions towards Indian football should never be forgotten.”
“This thought motivated me to come out with this book,” he added.
He mentioned that the book has tried to well cover all important instances of Bhaichung’s journey in football from his childhood to his farewell match against Bayern Munich in 2012 in poetry form.
Sharing his memories with Bhaichung, he said, “I have been watching his progress from childhood and he grew very close to me over the years.”
“He was good in all sports and was very competitive, dedicated and energetic and never wants to lose in any competition,” he added.
Even after Bhaichung was picked up by Kolkata’s giant, East Bengal FC and while playing for other majors clubs of the country, the author was constantly in touch with Bhaichung through letters.
Lefevre shared that the farewell match of Bhaichung Bhutia against Bayern Munich on January 10 in the year 2012 made him nostalgic and exactly after a week of the farewell match he started to jot down his memories of Bhaichung in a form of ballad, which receives huge appreciation and applauds from the people.
“After meeting another student from TNA, Chewang Rinchen Lepcha, the whole idea of this book gets conceptualised.” He said.
“After a thorough research Chewang started his work for the book to show important instance of his life through pictures,” he added.
He mentioned that as Chewang was also a former student of TNA so it helps him to get the real picture of many incidents related to Bhaichung in school.
“Bhaichung just loved and delighted to see this book and more interestingly his children have loved this book even more than their father,” Lefevre said.
He mentioned this was his first book and many other books were in the pipeline for the release.
It has been known that former students of TNA have come forward for the Sikkim launch of this book on 25 September at Gangtok. However, the book is available at Rachna Books.
Illustrator of the book, Chewang Rinchen Lepcha is a graduate of National Institute of Design, Ahmadabad and has worked on the animation design of several award winning projects which have earned worldwide acclaim.
He is presently with Echostream, Gangtok as Senior Communication Designer.
Lepcha stated that after a hard work with the author for around three years this book finally came out for readers.
“The author has written very beautifully so it makes me easy to illustrate and I also stayed in TNA hostel so it helps me to get the real picture,” he said.
After completing his graduate, he worked in Mumbai for some time before coming back to Gangtok.
He mentioned that initial discussions with the author on this project took place while working in Mumbai and finally the project came out after his return to Gangtok.
They mentioned that a portion from the sale of the book will spend for the development of sports in the rural parts of the State.
In his foreword, Bhaichung Bhutia has also shared his memories of his teacher, Sir Lenny and called him a mentor and a friend.
“Sir Lenny often reminds me that he is my biggest fan. He wrote this ballad in my honour,” he expressed.
He also highly appreciated illustration done by Chewang Rinchen Lepcha.
“I am proud of both of them, and with the book every success!” he said.
The preface of the book is written by former principal of TNA who served the school from 1989 to 96, who also shared some of his memories of Bhaichung Bhutia.