Apex FC, Kalimpong a well know club based in this beautiful hill town in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration will host a football tournament from the 10th of September to honour the memory of the club’s founder Raju Rana who passed away this year on the 7th of April after a prolonged illness. The tournament has been named as Late Raju Rana Memorial Football Tournament. Well known clubs from across Kalimpong sub-division are expected to participate along with a few clubs from the neighboring state of Sikkim and Kolkata.
It might be mentioned here Apex Football Club is one of the most successful clubs of Kalimpong and its surrounding areas having won the prestigious Sahid Cup last year. The club has also won the Kalimpong league and other tournaments over the years. Sahid Cup is held every year in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the cause of Gorkhaland and is regarded as one of the major tournaments of this region.
Raju Rana was instrumental in setting up the Apex Football Club in 2007, with a noble vision to give the youngsters that much needed platform and exposure of playing against better teams from outside Kalimpong. Rana was not a footballer himself but his passion and love for the game was unconditional and he always went that extra yard to help young footballers in need. So he was called Mama affectionately by most of footballers in Kalimpong.
He began an active role as a manager by forming a team of his own for the Village Tournament. The players themselves suggested that they would call the team ‘RAJU 7’ and the team created records that are still unbeaten at the Village Level in the Kalimpong area .No tournament at any village was complete without the presence of ‘RAJU 7’. The team won many tournaments under the expert guidance of Raju Rana.
Eventually, players themselves were confident and asked “Raju Mama” if they could put together a better team to play at a higher level. In no time the boys got together and full fledged team was formed in the year 2007 and was named Apex Football Club, there was no looking back as the team put their heart and soul in every game and they soon became a house hold name in Kalimpong.Raju Rana single handly managed the team and the coach was Chandra Kumar Rai.He holds a coaching certificate from the FA, England. The team was ‘one big family’ and every player was like Raju Rana’s son. He would encourage them in every possible way not only on the field but also in their lives.
Raju Rana was born in Kalimpong on the 24th of January, 1966 into a simple family. He began his Primary Education at Chibbo Primary School and joined Kumudini Higher Secondary School from where he passed his Madhyamik .He joined SUMI from where he did his Higher Secondary. He graduated in the B.Sc stream from Kalimpong Gov College. After that he he joined Kumudini Homes, his Alma Mater, in the Office Department where he worked till his passing away.
Raju Rana was a man of few words but his associates know he had a heart of gold. He was always ready to help the underprivileged and it is no wonder that many small boys would wait eagerly for’ lunch break as ‘Raju Sir’ would definitely buy them something to eat. He loved to joke with his students and school for him was a place where he could spread joy around.
During his school days, he was an active NCC Cadet and interested in Games. ‘Football’ was his passion and the love he had for the game was incredible. Infract, the boys in Kumudini Homes would often say-If you want Raju Sir’s love and help, join the football team, and surely they did. Raju Sir’s love for the game was so intense that he would often accompany the school team for the tournament outside Kalimpong even to sometimes far off places.A victory would definitely mean an ‘extra treat’ for the boys.
His loss was a loss to the ‘APEX FAMILY’ and a void would never be filled, the boys have felt. Like orphans.Raju Rana was a man of principle .A quite and a humble man one would rarely see him in the fore-front with his team. He always chose to stay behind the scene and support the team. He had dreams even for the younger generation of footballers whom he had begun to take under the wings of Senior APEX players.
Football was something he loved beyond measures. Many dreams were left unfulfilled with his sudden demise Yet his boys are confident and certain that ‘Raju Mama’ is looking down on them and urging them to live on his dream.
(Apex FC Press Release)