Mini The Unsung Hero Part-I
By Saurabh Rai (Chamling)
Born in the year 1953 to Late K.D Lama and Late Narmada Devi Lami, Urgen Lama (Mini) started his footballing journey in the year 1969 when he was selected to play for his school team, Scottish University Mission Institution (SUMI), Kalimpong. He was just sixteen then.
He had no other footballers in the family to inspire him; it was his self-interest, passion along with the claps and adulation showered by the people that inspired him to play. His father was a classical singer and a very well-known figure back then.
In the year 1971, a local team from West Sikkim hired him to play in a tournament and it was then he his nick name “Mini”. A local newspaper had carried his story and they had called him Mini, the name that he carries till date. Very few people know his real name even in his home town.
In1974 he received an invitation from the then King of Bhutan HH Jigme Singye Wangchuk to play for the National team. So Mini without a second thought packed his bags and left for Bhutan. While playing for Bhutan National team, he also took up a job there.
Bhutan national team along with Mini, travelled to India to play major tournaments like the Durand Cup, DCM Trophy and the Bordoli Trophy. He had won the Award for the best player in the Gorkha Gold Cup Darjeeling in in 1977.
Mini stayed in Bhutan till 1981 and in his final year of stay helped the team with his exceptional performance to win the Shillong Invitational Cup. He had got a wide media coverage then. In 1979 he also played a season with the Kolkata side Bharati Sangha.
After his return from Bhutan, Mini joined the Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting Club in 1982 and gave an impressive performance in the Kolkata League and the All India Governor’s Gold Cup in Sikkim. In the following year, he took his performance even further and was awarded The Best Player’s Trophy in the All India Governor’s Gold Cup.
1983 Mini lost his mother but he never kept himself away from Football. He took an offer from Sikkim to be their player/coach and went on to play seven Santosh Trophy tournaments. During his stay in Sikkim he met a young and budding footballer back then, Bhaichung Bhutia.
To be continued.....