[India], Sep 7 (ANI): Former Indian footballer Baichung Bhutia has said that the team need more players like Sunil Chhetri as there is a huge responsibility on his shoulder and he is not getting any younger.
The 41-year-old further suggested that since sports is a state subject, respective governments should contribute to the growth of football in the country.
Speaking to ANI, Bhutia said, "There is a huge responsibility for Sunil and he is not getting younger. We need to have more Sunil chhetris in the team. Sunil is already 34. We should try and make sure that there are more players of Sunil's quality in Indian football."
"Sports is a state subject and they need to do a lot in terms of contributing for the growth of sports in India," he added.
Commenting on club culture in football, the striker said that though it holds importance for the development of sport in the country, contribution to grass root levels and participation of state sports authorities is equally crucial.
Reflecting on India's performance in the recently-concluded 18th edition of the Asian Games, the Indian player stated that it was one of the best Asian Games performances so far and he did not expect Indian track and field players to perform so well.
He urged the government to continue supporting the players so that they don't lose out in the next two years.
Speaking about his political ambitions, the former captain, who has recently launched a Sikkim based political party named "Hamro Sikkim", said that their main focus revolves around the issues like corruption and unemployment in the state.
He alleged that the existing government has completely ignored the sports and the state players, who made their mark in the respective fields, have done everything on their own without any assistance from the authorities.
"We are looking at development. Sikkim, being a special state, has got special provisions which we need to safeguard. One of the main issues that we would definitely like to fight is corruption. Sikkim, among the political class, is one of the most corrupt states which is why the unemployment range is huge. We are number one in suicide rates, as well," he said.
"I think in Sikkim govt in last 25 years has completely neglected the sports. Sportspersons have come out on their own. There is no single instance where policies have helped players in the Sikkim," he added.
Bhutia, who made his international debut in the Nehru Cup against Thailand in 1995, has played 107 international matches scoring a total of 42 goals for the country. (ANI)