He dreamed of football fame, but died on junta’s day of shame

On March 27—the day that Myanmar’s military calls Armed Forces Day, but which the rest of the country refers to as Anti-Fascist Resistance Day—he was the first to fall.
Chit Bo Bo Nyein, 21, a young man whose abiding passion before the February 1 coup was football, now wanted nothing more than to see the end of military rule in his country. And in the end, he gave his life to this struggle.
Early on the day of his death, he joined a large group of young protesters in Ywarma Lal, a ward in Yangon’s Insein township, as they marched in a show of resistance to the military takeover that had dashed the hopes of their generation.
But as they approached a barricade set up by the protesters themselves, they were ambushed by about a dozen soldiers who were there waiting for them. As soon as they were within sight, the soldiers opened fire, and the crowd scattered.
Most managed to escape. Two others were hit, including a 14-year-old boy who required abdominal surgery, but Chit Bo Bo Nyein was the only one to die in that first volley of gunfire that marked the start of the junta’s day of shame.
Before the day was over, more than 150 others around the country would be dead, as regime forces reveled in an orgy of violence against unarmed civilians.
A proud legacy
Chit Bo Bo Nyein, who was also known as Ar Yar Yar, died at around 8:30am this past Saturday, his brother, Aung Ko Ko Zaw, told Myanmar Now.
The bullet that killed him had already hit another man of about the same age before it struck him on the right side of his body and went through his ribs, ending his short life.
“They set their guns on the sandbags put up by the protesters, aimed carefully at the people, and shot,” Aung Ko Ko Zaw said, describing how his brother was murdered in cold blood.
“I’m very sad that my brother died, but I’m also proud of him for giving his life in this way,” he added.
Chit Bo Bo Nyein was the fourth of five siblings in the family. Five years ago, at the age of 15, he discovered his calling in life: to become a world-class footballer like his hero, Paul Pogba, a midfielder for the Premier League club Manchester United.
“He loved playing like Pogba. He impersonated Pogba’s style, even his hairstyle. There are photos of him. He was very dynamic,” Aung Ko Ko Zaw said.
His dream of becoming Myanmar’s Pogba became an obsession that eclipsed every other interest, including his education. But it also led to athletic success, earning him a position as a midfield player on the Hantharwady United U21 football team. Like his idol, he also served as the captain of his team.
His death was a great loss not only for his team, but also for the future of football in Myanmar, said Chit Ko Ko, a trainer for Hantharwady United.


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