Stranded over rail disruptions, Team Sikkim takes the highway to Guwahati

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2022 08:15 [IST]

Last Update: Tuesday, Jun 21, 2022 02:39 [IST]

Stranded over rail disruptions, Team Sikkim takes the highway to Guwahati

BIJOY GURUNG

SFA officials on ground overcome setbacks to ensure comfortable journey of Team Sikkim
GANGTOK,:
The Sikkim girls’ football team has successfully reached Guwahati for the upcoming Hero Women’s u-17 national football championship, due to tireless efforts made by SFA officials on ground to improvise and overcome setbacks posed by national train movement disruptions.
Trains to Guwahati had been severely affected following protests in other States along the route over the ‘Agnipath’ controversy. Team Sikkim was scheduled to board Avadh-Assam train from NJP, Siliguri at 5 pm of June 17 for Guwahati.
SFA general secretary Phurba Sherpa and vice president Shyam Pradhan were at NJP to ensure a comfortable train boarding and other arrangements for the Sikkim girls football team.
The first announcement was that the train would be three hours late with the estimated arrival time of 8 pm.
According to the SFA officials, the platform and all the waiting rooms were packed with similarly stranded passengers due to multiple trains’ delay. A temporary space was found at a waiting room but soon, it became unbearable to rest due to stench and garbage. The girls were then taken to the footbridge at the station which provided a respite for some time. However, it was abandoned following intense rains.
By this time, it was announced that the train would arrive at around 11 pm.
After this, the two SFA officials were requested to leave for Siliguri for the night as the team can board the train upon its arrival.
Later, it was learnt that the Guwahati-bound train may arrive at NJP station at around 1:30 am only, which was also uncertain.
“After receiving the information, we immediately decided to leave for NJP railway station and managed to reach there despite difficulties. We met the station authorities and told them that the team has to reach Guwahati for the junior national football championship. However, they were also unable to give confirmation on when the train would actually arrive,” said SFA vice president Shyam Pradhan.
The SFA officials cancelled the train tickets and brought back the entire team along with coach Puspha Gurung and other two officials to Salugara. Time has crossed 11 pm by then.
At Salugura, the SFA officials booked online 28 seats in the best available Volvo AC bus to Guwahati for the Sikkim contingent, said Pradhan.
The cost of the train tickets was around Rs. 6,000 while the AC sleeper bus coach fare came to Rs. 36,000 but we felt to give importance to the convenience and security of the team members than the budget, said Pradhan.  
The next morning on June 18, the Sikkim team reached the terminus and happily boarded the Guwahati-bound AC bus. They reached Guwahati safely on June 19 morning and the news brought great happiness to both of us, said Pradhan.
The Sikkim team is making preparations for their first match against Arunachal Pradesh on June 21.
“The SFA extends its special thanks to Tashi Lama and his wife Hissey Bhutia for the support extended to safely transport the Sikkim girls to Guwahati. Their three children also play football, Tashi is a grassroots coach while his wife is a social worker. They have selflessly extended help to make the arrangements of lodging, food and practice for the Sikkim team in Siliguri,” said the SFA officials.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi