The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 24 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brand boost for Bhaichung boys

- Neha joins club of Rahul & John

Gangtok, Jan. 23: The United Sikkim Football Club’s fan base has got a boost with actress Neha Dhupia declaring herself the brand ambassador of the team which counts actors Rahul Bose and John Abraham among its supporters.

“It was great to come to Sikkim to watch Bhaichung Bhutia and his United Sikkim play. From today onwards, I will always be a member of United Sikkim and I will be on its side. I totally back you Bhaichung and will be an ambassador of United Sikkim,” Neha said at a funds-raising dinner organised by the Gangtok Municipal Corporation here yesterday evening.

Rahul and Bhaichung were present at the dinner. The dinner was attended by 120 couples who were charged Rs 5,000 each. The proceeds from the event will be donated to earthquake victims of Sikkim.

Neha was present at an exhibition football match at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok yesterday. Former international footballers like Christian Karembeu and Regi Blinker formed team Superstar XI which took on United Sikkim in the match.

Rahul, Scorpions founding member Rudolf Schenker and former Indian footballers Joe Paul Ancheri and Alvito D’cunha were also part of the veterans’ team.

The match had been jointly organised by the Sikkim government and a private event management company to spread a message to tourists that the Himalayan state was a safe destination.

Tourism in Sikkim had suffered a jolt because of the earthquake on September 18 last year.

Addressing the guests at the dinner, Neha said: “It was a great pleasure to watch the match and the reason why the match was held was even greater. We are all glad to be here to make a difference. I have come to Sikkim for the first time and clearly it’s not the last time. I promise to come back.”

In his short speech, Rahul said there were two reasons which made him take part in the match. “The first reason is to tell the world that earthquake happens everywhere and Sikkim is back in tourism business. The second reason is that apart from Sachin Tendulkar and Leander Peas, there are no other sportspersons in India like Bhaichung Bhutia who have served their game for more than two decades. I want to pay my tribute to him by playing the match,” said the Bollywood actor.

United Sikkim thanked Neha for donning the hat of brand ambassador.

“Rahul has always been supportive of United Sikkim. The club management and players also thank Neha for her announcement to be the ambassador of United Sikkim. The association of such Bollywood celebrities will definitely give a boost to football and United Sikkim in the country,” said Arjun Rai, the senior manager of the club.