The earthquake that shook most of north and northeast India on Sunday has also given a jolt to actor John Abraham and footballer Baichung Bhutia’s joint plan to open a football academy in Sikkim. We had reported a year ago that the duo had initiated talks with government authorities for permission and allotment of land for the academy.
John admits that Baichung and he had planned to start their football academy towards the end of this year in Sikkim. “Whatever happened is really unfortunate and something that we could do nothing to avert. Sadly, we had a meeting with the state’s Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling scheduled for some time now. And the quake has pushed our plan off track,” he says, adding, “Mr Chamling is a great sports enthusiast. He was keen on our academy because our plan was to create a platform where talent would converge with the best people who can hone it. We still don’t have a team that can play at the FIFA World Cup as confidently as the European or Latin American teams.”
The actor, gearing up for Force, his first release since last year’s debacle, Jhootha Hi Sahi, hopes Chamling will continue to support the venture. “Baichung and I are meeting next week in Kolkata, where I plan to show him Force and then, we’ll sit down to chalk our plan of action. I’m not sure how long it will take to set up because we have to give the state and its people their time to recuperate from Sunday’s devastation,” says John, who was a football player himself before becoming a model and then, an actor. Now, he plays the game during his free time and on the sets in between shots.
“If I had taken the game seriously, I may have played for our country,” asserts John. “My parents, especially my father, always encouraged me to take up sports because they believed and so do I, that learning to take defeat and victory with equal grace at a young age helps a lot when you face life outside home, school, college and your friends-circle.”