Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ordinary People Inspiring Stories - Chencho Gyaltshen

The first time I met Chencho Gyeltshen was in Lungtenzampa School. Having scored Bhutan’s winning goal against Sri Lanka, Chencho became an overnight sensation and was invited in a panel discussion with HE Khamtrul Rimpoche that afternoon. 

Chencho scores against Sri Lanka making him a star
Having watched him in the field, I was pleasantly surprised to find a boy who was humble, soft-spoken and very reserved. On the stage, he felt totally out of place in the presence of the young Buddhist master and other panelists. “I really don’t know what to say. I haven’t achieved anything to be here with such illustrious speakers,” he started off. His voice dried up on him several times even before he completed a full sentence. Seeing him in trouble, Namgay Zam, the moderator, gently came to his rescue and hinted, “You can tell the students how you made it to the first eleven.” Chencho felt better. Khamtrul Rimpoche also gave him a more reassuring smile. Chencho resumed. “Yes. Let me tell you how I got to the main line-up of the national squad,” he said. “We were playing in Dhaka against Bangladesh and towards the end of the match the coach signaled to me to warm up. I did and after a couple of minutes I was asked to enter the field. I checked the time. We had 15 minutes to go. I said to myself, ‘Well, all the years of handwork now boils down to just 15 minutes. Prove yourself, man!’ and I went in and gave the best of myself. When the game ended the coach came up to me and patted my shoulders. I knew then I made it”. The children in the hall applauded. Chencho gained more confidence. “In life, opportunities come in small doses. You have to grab them and give your best”. He went on to narrate how he still faced difficulties in convincing his parents and relatives about being a professional footballer. He is often told by everyone that football won’t bring food to his plate. “But I believe in myself and I work hard. I still work very hard. I always go for practice 30-40 minutes before the coach arrives. He sees me working harder than others.”

I caught up with Chencho after the symposium where some tea were arranged for the speakers and the guests. Namgay Zam introduced me to him. Chencho bowed down to me almost in reverence as we shook our hands. “You know, Chencho, I have a suggestion, if I may,” I told him. “Yes, sir,” he replied. “You should forget your college plans for now. And instead focus on football. Keep playing for the national team”. “Yes, sir,” he replied as his face brightened. I suspect that he finally found someone who was speaking his mind. “When you are out from pro football at around, let’s say, where you're 29-30, you can go back to college. There could be some sorts of scholarships for former players. You can graduate at the age of 33 and then you can then start a new career. And assuming that you will eventually be retiring at 60, you will still have 27 years of whatever career you will be choosing after football.” “Las la,” Chencho replied. I continued, “And come back to me, if you need help to go back to college. But keep playing for now”. 

I hope he does because he will go very far. By that I mean really really far. College can wait for now.

(Many professional players in Italy go back to college after their football career. One of them was Paolo Rossi who led Italy to World Cup victory in 1982).  


  1. He is a unique boy and a gem of the nation~

  2. Inspiring. He deserves all our praises for having put us back on the world football map.

  3. He is the best!!! I wish the rest of the players were the same!

  4. He is the man to make the difference. Thank you sir for inspiring story

  5. he is amazing!!!! wish he become the world superstar soon... common Chencho!