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It’s a beautiful game indeed

Ricky Chaakchuwak’s first leap into a football field had hit a heavy roadblock early in his career,at just 13 in fact.

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi |
February 5, 2009 12:49:02 am

How football helped rehabilitate Ricky Chaakchuwak,a drug addict

Ricky Chaakchuwak’s first leap into a football field had hit a heavy roadblock early in his career,at just 13 in fact. It had seemed like the passion the Churachandpur,Manipur,boy had for the game would be lost. For all that,he takes the blame on himself,for whatever followed,however, he credits Delhi club Royal Rangers.

“I was lured into soft drugs,initially out of curiosity,but gradually I became an addict. By another year I had left football. It was during one of the rehabilitation programmes in Delhi that Royal Rangers showed interest in me and from then football was like therapy,” says Ricky,also acknowledging the role of Neville Selhore,the director of Sahara house,who brought him to Delhi.

On his way back,Ricky feels,the club also helped him connect with his familial lineage. “My father (Lalmuana Chhakchhuak) is a former footballer. The sport is also very popular among other family members of mine. The stint with Royal Rangers enabled me to keep up the tradition,” Ricky says.

It’s Benny Joseph,general secretary of the Royal Rangers,who first noticed Ricky and his mates (Dio and Sian) in football jerseys and the therapeutic value of the game was ascertained by coach Sanjeev Frank.

“Benny sir told me to pick three players from the seven of us. I picked myself along with Dio and Siam,” says Ricky.

Suddenly the early-morning warm up became a regular activity and the much-needed distraction as well. “Playing football every morning was like therapy. More importantly,it diverted our minds to something we liked,” Ricky adds.

Frank acknowledges the unique role of sport. “With drugs,sports etc,you are always on a high. So the cure rests on your own self,” Frank says. He is 16 years into an association with the club and he knows the best option is to avoid treating such players differently.

“Above everything,it is important that they don’t get any special treatment. That is the only was to make them realise they are still part of the same society. I have maintained this thoroughly and people have given up everything for football,” Frank adds.

Ricky,however,has now abandoned his boots and he doesn’t intend to dust them either. “I remember playing for Delhi in the Santosh Trophy in Kerala and scoring a goal against,perhaps,UP. But now I’m too involved with my work. I’m married as well,” he laughs.

Ricky fails to differentiate between the passion and profession aspects of his new-found interest in music,but at this point,his life seems to have completed a full circle.

“My profession involves dealing with drug addicts. But it’s more of a harm-reduction process through music,” he adds.

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