Gumpe Rime is a household name when it comes to football especially in Northeast India. Gumpe was a pioneer to make a name by playing for several prominent clubs of the country in the 1990s and 2000s.
Though born and brought up in Arunachal Pradesh, the goalkeeper shifted his base to Guwahati in the early 1990s. And after that, there has been no looking back. In two-decade-long career, Gumpe went on to represent clubs such as the erstwhile Mahindra United, Vasco, Salgaocar and Shillong Lajong to name a few.
He holds an AFC A and an AFC GK Level 3 License. He’s also a certified coach educator holding an AFC C and AFC GK Level-1 educator’s license. Having previously coached at the Tata Football Academy and Shillong Lajong FC, Gumpe has been with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2017. He also coached India Under-23 side.
The News Mill caught up with Gumpe who is now based in Navi Mumbai.
Q: Tell us about your experience with the Reliance Foundation. Give us an idea how is the foundation working and also about the young players.
Gumpe Rime: So far it has been a fantastic journey working with the best academy in the country. The foundation provides an exceptional opportunity for the talented kids to showcase their talent with best of facilities in terms of training and exposure and also provide them with the quality academic program and also teach them the core values of life and other life skill as well.
Q: We have seen you speaking on behalf of the coaches – like not many Indian licensed coaches getting the opportunity and clubs treating them poorly. Has the condition of the Indian coaches improved over the years?
Gumpe Rime: Of course the qualities have improved a lot. With our coach education programme making great progress under the tutelage of Savio Medeira and also with the influx of some quality coaches from across the globe, our coaches too have made progress and are doing very well.
Q: How’s the condition of female coaches?
Gumpe Rime: To be honest, I have not worked with female players or coaches. So, it is difficult for me to say anything at this juncture.
Q: Recently, the Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC) and Football Coaches Australia had some understandings. How it will help Indian football?
Gumpe Rime: This is a historic moment for the AIFC and coaches of our country as this tie-up will see the exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge between the two associations which will immensely benefit our coaches. I’m hopeful of getting some good results.
Q: If India have to qualify for the World Cup, what are the basic things we need to focus at? When India practically can qualify for the WC?
Gumpe Rime: Let us be practical, first we should think about being among the top 10 teams in Asia. Then we can think about qualifying for the World Cup later. To dream about it we need to do a lot of work at the grassroots level and create age-group competitions which will serve as a pool for talent identification early on. Our federation has pushed for the golden baby league but how many states are implementing it?
Q: How do you see the role of schools in grooming the young kids?
Gumpe Rime: As our sports minister (Kiren Rijiju) has mentioned that football (sports) will be made a regular curriculum in schools if done properly it can work wonders for us in days to come.
I have always believed that the schools can do a great job in attracting the kids into football and provide them with a platform at the very beginning. So, yes, the schools do play a huge role.
Q: You have been part of Shillong Lajong FC both as a player and coach. Can you share your experience?
Gumpe Rime: I retired as a player and started my coaching journey at SLFC. So, that itself speaks the volume of my experience and association with the club. I’m grateful to the club management for the opportunity to serve in both the capacity.
Q: Let’s talk about the NE scene. How do you assess the football scene in the region?
Gumpe Rime: If you look at the number of players playing in the Indian Super League and I league from the region, it’s huge. Football is the most popular sports here and we have seen many players not just representing the country but have captained the national team as well.
But I always believe, there is plenty of scopes to make the scene even better.
Q: Do you support the concept of conducting a Northeast-specific league to further improve the scene?
Gumpe Rime: Any form of competition which will generate employment and professional opportunity for player and coaches alike is always welcomed. This will further boost the quality of football and create a football culture for other states like Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
Q: Talking about football in Arunachal Pradesh, why do you think the kids are not much inclined towards football?
Gumpe Rime: Football in my state is very popular among young kids. What is lacking at the moment is age-group competition and grassroots activity which needs to speed up. Things are changing rapidly and we have seen in the past couple of years that our junior teams have done really well in the national championship. It is just a matter of time that we will see some young talents making it big in Indian football.
Q: Talking about the ISL, how this has helped Indian football grow?
Gumpe Rime: Definitely, the ISL has brought a huge change in India with the influx of top quality players and coaches. Our players have also improved a lot in term of quality and professionalism. If you look at the facilities the clubs are providing in terms of pitches and quality training besides other amenities which will surely motivate the youngsters to work hard and dream of playing in the top league. Also, ISL has started children’s league which will definitely help young kids to hone their skill and become a good player.
Q: Also, tell us about your association with Assam. What are the steps Assam should take to nurture more football talents and make them big players? Compared to Manipur, Mizoram or even Meghalaya, Assam is lagging far behind in football. How Assam can move forward as well?
Gumpe Rime: My association with Assam football goes back to academy days when I was picked up by Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Guwahati in 1992. I have played for Assam in a couple of national championships and also played for Rising XI and Maharana AC in the GSA League which was the top league in northeast those days.
Assam too has produced a good number of players. We see some of them playing at the top Indian league. To develop football in the state, they need to make the league stronger to develop club culture and also take up the grassroots activity on a serious note.
Q: Something about your childhood days…how did you start playing football?
Gumpe Rime: As fish takes to water, football has always been the first love and I grew up playing this beautiful game in my home town Aalo in West Siang district.
Q: Who were your inspirations when you started playing football?
Gumpe Rime: I remember watching the Mexico World Cup for the first time and saw Jorge Campos (Mexican goalkeeper) with colourful jersey in 1986. He is just 5’7” and was playing in the world cup. Campos was quite outstanding and that really inspired and motivated me to play the game more seriously.