BBC cameras follow Gravesend football team Punjab Utd as they fight for their life

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 June 2019

Chipie, second from left, and some of his Punjab United players. Picture: BBC

Chipie, second from left, and some of his Punjab United players. Picture: BBC


A non-league football club in Gravesend has become the subject of a BBC documentary showing the passion the players maintain for the sport.

From dressing room rows to success and failure on the pitch, it makes for gripping viewing.

While the nation's top clubs have literally millions swimming around in their bank accounts, Punjab United FC has determination, and very little else.

The Our Lives series focuses on the highs and low of the beautiful game.

They have moved from the Sunday leagues to the rarified heights of the Southern Counties East League Premier Division having won promotion two seasons in a row. That's a mere eight divisions below the Premier League.

Punjab United started modestly enough.

Owner and manager Chipie Sian splits his time between the team and the family's building company.

As a lad, he never realised his dream of becoming a top class footballer.

Instead,as an adult in 2003 he bought a team strip, built a ground and hired a squad.

But he soon learns passion is not enough to guarantee success on the pitch.

The documentary follows the team from the arguments, dreams of stardom and unbridled passion as they fight relegation with the fervour of any Premier League team.

Football may be a matter of life and death to some, but for non-league side Punjab United it's far more important than that.

As relegation looms, a night out at a Gravesend nightclub is hoped to boost morale and get the goals going in again, in the right direction.

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Despite the name, the players are a mix of faiths and cultures, and Sikhs are actually a minority in the team at the moment.

The club have their own ground and some players are paid - but making their way in the fiercely competitive world of football is no easy task.

The BBC follows Punjab United and Chipie as they are promoted to the Southern Counties East Football League. They expect to continue their upwards trajectory but are shocked as they end up in a punishing battle against relegation.

From edge-of-the-box screamers to screaming rows in the dressing room Punjab United - Our Lives is proof that passion, dedication and home pride are not just traits of the big sides, but permeate every level of the game.

Everyone has advice, from hairdressers and work colleagues, but Chipie is ruthless in his dressing rooms demands. He warns his players they face ruin if they are relegated. He tells his players the other teams want it more than them.

At one point during a half-time motivation talk, Chipie yells at his team: "I am not having it - I can't have people moaning. Shut up."

As a crunch match arrives, Chipie tells him team: "Do not let yourselves down - do not let this club down."

He later screams at his team in the dressing room: "Someone's got to take responsibility. You guys have got to step up now."

Chipie said: "I always loved to play or just kick a football around in the streets and locals parks with friends.

"My first journey into management began at the at the age of 13 where I set up a local youth team. The buzz from this experience really defined my passion for football management.

"For the next few years I carried on playing for local clubs before deciding to start my own club in 2003 with the help of my brother and friends.

"As things progressed, the club achieved back to back promotions and the dream of running a club a semi professional club became a reality,

"It's amazing what we have achieved, we now have a part of the national league system with dedicated ground which has stands, floodlights and a youth set up that will be the future of Punjab Utd."

The programme airs on BBC One at 7.30pm today, Monday, June 17.

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