PROFILE: Chencho Gyeltshen became a national hero when he scored a brace during the second round of the World Cup qualifiers against Sri Lanka on our home ground of Changlimithang stadium in Thimphu.
A class 12 graduate from Kelki higher secondary school in Thimphu, football was not Chencho’s first choice. Had football not come into his life by chance, he would have been a martial artist.
In 2007, Chencho signed for under-13 national football team.
“I was returning home from school when I saw a group of people at the Changjiji football ground undergoing some sort of training. It was the selection for the under-13 national team,” said Chencho, who was just eight years old.
Chencho got selected and a new journey began for him not long after. “I used to learn from watching YouTube videos of Cristiano Ronaldo, my inspiration,” said Chencho, smiling.
Today, Chencho is widely known as “CG7”. Also, he is called “The Ronaldo of Bhutan”.
Chencho is the only Bhutanese footballer, who has some professional experience. He was sent for a month-long training in Thailand with Buriram United, a professional Thai football club in Buriram province, by his club owner Yiwang Pindarica of Thimphu FC.
After a month-long training, he was scheduled to return home the very next day. Somehow his flight got cancelled and he had to stay for a few more days with the club. That gave him some more time to play friendlies with Thai clubs.
In one of the club games in Thailand, Chencho was substituted in the 80th minute, and he netted his first goal for the club five minutes after he walked on to the field. The game got him international recognition and he was even offered to play for the club.
“I might play for the club in the future, but at the moment, I have my team at home,” said Chencho.
With the next World Cup qualifiers just around the corner, Chencho expects to deliver his best. He expects the Bhutanese national team to be placed against the elite Asian teams.
“Playing against tough teams is a rewarding experience, always. We get to learn a lot from the experienced players,” said Chencho.
Chencho and his mates are aware of the hopes the people and the country have of them. “What if we let down the expectations of the people?” said Chencho. He has a worried face all of a sudden. “But pressure is good. Most of the time the best comes out under pressure. We’re expecting the best, but at the same time prepared for the worst.”
Chencho is currently at the top with six goals already to his name in the ongoing Yanmar Thimphu premier league.
By Younten Tshedup