Chandan Singh Rawat was probably a household name in Darjeeling. An ex-Olympian and international football player, Chandan Singh Rawat was a prominent and regular player in the Indian National team - post independence. The following is reproduced from the interaction Barun Roy had with Chandan Singh Rawat when he was still alive. Though the ‘Greatest of the Living Legends of the Indian Gorkhas’ is now no more with us, he shall live with us, in our memories and heart. "I was born on 6 July 1926 in Dehradun Cantonment in the 9th Gorkha Regimental Centre. I studied in the Gorkha Military High School and started playing from an early age. In those days there used to be three major Football Tournaments played amongst all the Gorkha Regimental teams and the Royal Garhwal Regimental Team. The three Tournaments were ‘The Gorkha Cup’, ‘The Nepal Cup’ and ‘The Garhwal Cup’.
These were played in rotation at different centres. I got my inspiration from these tournaments. I played for my school team when I was only 12 years of age. The school was 2 kms from my house and while walking to and fro from school, I use to keep kicking stones, leaves, flowers, etc., on the road till I reached school. Later, a rag ball was used and then a tennis ball. Later, I graduated from High School and joined the Dayanand Anglo Vedic College in Dehradun. The college was 6 kms, from my house and I repeated what I did while going to school. In the very first year, I played for the college team when only 15 in the District League and Knock-Out (All India) tournaments. While playing for my College team, I had the unique distinction of scoring nine goals in a row in a league match (1st Division) tournament. I passed my 1st year College and joined the Army 3/2nd Gorkha Rifles. I fought in the Second World War (1939-45) on the Burma Front in the very first year I joined the Army in 1943. I was awarded the 1939-45 Burma Star and the Independence Medal. While in the army, I played with distinction for my Battalion team the 3/2 gorkha Rifles." "In 1947, when the country was partitioned, I left the Army though the British officers requested and forced me to stay with them. My regiment, the 2nd Gorkha Rifles, went to the Britishers in Hong Kong and Malaysia. They promised me that they would commission me in the rank of Regular Officer (Lieutenant) after I reached Hong Kong. But I did not want to leave the country and took my discharge from the Army."
"I was very good at my game and when the 5 Gorkha Rifles shifted to Dehradun from Abbotabad, now in Pakistan. The then Commandant of the 5 Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre was very much impressed with my game and kept on asking me to join them and promised me a commissioned rank, later. But I could not get the commissioned rank and left them also. While in the 5 Gorkha Regiment, I played for the Regimental team from 1948 to 1951 in an All India Tournament and won many tournaments beating all outstation teams. While in the Army, I was the first player from the services to be chosen for India in 1950. In 1951, when India won the 1st Asian Games at New Delhi I was a playing member of that time and was still in the Army. When I did not get my Commission, I left again and in 1951 joined the East Bengal Club of Calcutta." "I am at present Sports Advisor and Coach in Chief in the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). I took the DGHC team to participate in the North East Sports Festival (Organised by Sports Authority of India in rotation in the North Eastern States including Sikkim) held at Gangtok in 1996. The team played very well but lost in extra time to Manipur. In 1997, I took the team to Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh where the team performed very well and won the Bronze Medal.”
"Considering and keeping in mind my distinguished career and achievements in the field of Football, the All India Football Federation rewarded me at the fag end of my career by appointing me the Manager of the Indian Team which took part in the 1st South Asian Football Federation in Kathmandu, Nepal from 4 to 14 September 1997. The participating teams were India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. India won the Gold Cup, a just reward for me, too."
"I keep busy coaching and giving advice to youngsters in Darjeeling and always try to motivate them. I have a small coaching camp called The Long Term Non-Residential Coaching Scheme. There are so many players from this camp who are at present playing for different clubs in Darjeeling. Some have joined the Police Force and some the Army because of their game and disciplined life. I keep these boys up to the year of 16. After the seniors leave, I take new boys who stay with me for 2 -3 years where they learn their basic techniques and tactics to be ready for the Clubs."
1958 – "I effectively retired from Professional Football as a player and left Calcutta to join St Joseph’s College, Darjeeling as a Football Coach. I coached boys from the age of 5 to 23, which included the College team and the University of North Bengal team. The School and the College teams had great success in the local tournaments by winning them almost every year.” 1971 – "I started a Coaching cum Club in the name of ‘Darjeeling Dynamo’ which became a household name in the very first year and won many tournaments. This club still continues to serve the area. I have produced four players who represented Sikkim in the Nationals. One of my students from the College represented India at the Asian Games. A number of my boys were selected for Sports Authority of India Hostels and Army Boys companies." 1973 – "I obtained my Football Coaching Diploma from National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala securing First Class First." 1975 – I left Sts. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling after serving them for 18 years. I WAS NEITHER OFFERED PENSION NOR GRATUITY. I joined the Nagaland Civil Service as a State Football Coach (Gazetted Post). I coached the State Team for the Nationals from 1975 to 1979 with great success. Five of my players were selected to play for India in the first year itself. I also coached the Nagaland Police Team with great success in the All India Police Meets and also for various All India tournaments where the team achieved great success.
1980 – Left Nagaland and joined Goodricks Tea Group as a Coach but the scheme misfired and I left them in 1981. 1981-82 - I coached St Paul’s School Football Teams. 1982 – I joined the National Institute of Sports as a Senior Football Coach on the Teaching and Coaching Faculty. At this late age I was considered as a very special case to start the NIS-SAI Centre at Calcutta. During my tenure at SAI, I produced more than 400 football coaches who are now full-fledged coaches all over the country. I taught both the Diploma and Certificate Course trainees. I also conducted many Coaching Clinics and Courses for the West Bengal District Coaches and the Nehru Yuvak Kendra leaders. Besides the main subject, I taught “The Laws of the Game” where I was quite an expert. I attended special Coaching Courses conducted by the FA and the FIFA Coaches. I was the Convenor and Assistant Coach to Ivan Toplak, FIFA Football Coach during FIFA Coca International Football Academy course held at Calcutta in 1988.
I retired from SAI after getting two one year extensions in service in 1988. I WAS NOT OFFERED ANY PENSION. 1989 – After retiring from SAI Calcutta, I joined the Government of Orissa Service as a State Football Coach and coached the state Team for the nationals. I also helped in coaching the state run Sports Hostel boys. Besides teaching and coaching, I am very well experienced in Organisation and Administration in Sports and conducted various tournaments including the all India Police Meets while in Nagaland, the Brigade of Gorkhas Gold Cup in Darjeeling and a few other tournaments. I was a member of the Organising Committee of the IX Asiad at New Delhi and was Technical in charge at the Ambedkar Stadium. Today, there is a chapter written on my life in the Nepali Text Book named ‘Sahitya Path’ Part III for Class 7 students of Darjeeling Hills, Sikkim and some schools in Bhutan. I have conducted until recently many coaching camps for various teams in different age groups and also one, six week long Coaching Course similar to the one I conducted at SAI in Calcutta. I have been organising Referee Clinics for the local Referees. At present, I am deeply trying to translate the potential of Gorkha Footballers into reality through various coaching and administrative schemes. "My coaching will continue as long as I can impart it because I want to give all I have got to the game and my people…."