History of Football in Bhutan

Bhutanese National Football Team existed since the 1970s, and football in olden times was played with much dedication and passion. The sport fans during the matches in the changlimathang stadium was much more in past than today. Beside lots of limitations in all aspects the sport was popular within the Bhutanese society. It is fair to state that standard of football was high but it is much faster, stronger, higher, technical and tactical in today’s football.

In 1983 Bhutan Football Association was founded as the governing body of the development of the sport in the Nation. In 1993 it was rename as Bhutan Football Federation and was affiliated with AFC and in 2000 affiliated with FIFA. As Bhutan Olympic Committee is the sole agent of the sports development in Nation, Bhutan Football Federation is also one of the Federations under the BOC umbrella.

The first President was Lyonpo Dawa Tshering and Dasho Ugyen Dorji was the first General Secretary of the Federation. The executive members consist of President, Vice-Presidents, Treasurer and other members but all the members were working on volunteer bases.

During its initial stages, sport might have struggled with limitations of technically sound persons, lack of infrastructures, equipment and no opportunity to participate in international competitions. Beside limitations the Bhutanese National Team had very talented and skillful players at that time. As of now I could remember only few names i.e. Abai Gurung, Pema Dorji, Mini and K.B.Basnet which were very popular in this region.

The first international match Bhutan played was in Nepal with Nepal on April 1, 1982 and Bhutan lost 1-3 score. The first National level match was organized in 1986 and Royal Bhutan Army was the winner of the competition. The facilities in the past were obviously not that good in all aspects. In today’s football we are at least equipped with handful of technically sound coaches, match officials and qualified managers.

After securing affiliation with AFC and FIFA the development and major changes in sport was see as the Federation is entitled for annual subsidiary funds, which enable the functioning of the Federation and development of sport in the Nation. As the member of FIFA, Federation has completed 1st FIFA Goal Project and the 2nd Project is under construction. These FIFA Goal Projects builds sport infrastructures in the Nation which contributes for the development of tomorrow’s players which is vital in modern trends of football. The new generation of players in the days to come depends on how we nurture them in the Grassroots stages in these excellent centers buildup by the FIFA funds.

As the present scenario of sports in Bhutan is not professional and athletics hardly makes living out of sports, priorities were given for academic sessions who secure the future profiles of the youths. The lack of infrastructures, human resources, exposures and funds are the major factors that contribute as barriers for the development of the sports. The remedies for these barriers are easy to say but to implement it needs lots of resources.  To develop the sports in Nation it is vital and out most important to have standard infrastructures in place, qualified professionals in specific sports, qualified Administrators, lots of exposures in international arenas and Professional sports personnel whereby they can make living out of sports. This is also a scenario whereby nobody could be blame as the country in its midst of development has lots of top and genuine priorities to be implemented for its people welfare.

Inline to the philosophy of our beloved Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, it would be wise idea to nurture sports and GNH side by side as sports would contribute lots for achieving the GNH. Bhutan Football Federation has very clear vision of nurturing the players from their golden age of learning and we want the coming generation to be the Pro-Generation. Bhutan Football Federation wants today’s youth to participate in sports actively and seriously, which would contribute for the healthier and happier citizens in the days to come. So, through sports we want to bring some changes and we are striking to achieve our goals and we have faith with the stake holders for their supports.

We have few popular players in the National squad and they are also quite senior, we would like to put up some names i.e. Passang, Pema, Ngwang, Chenco and Kinley Dorji. To be honest as we are not professional there is only a very little difference between our national players in their performance.

Bhutanese citizen very often gets upset with results of the national team while playing in international arenas; it is fact as a true Bhutanese who want to see his/her nation losing badly. But the facts are; we as a Bhutanese should ask some questions to ourselves: Are we professional? Do we have players regularly practicing and playing? Do we have infrastructures? What is the preparation budget and duration? Do we have enough exposures before the competitions? Do we have excellent centers for development of players? Do we have adequate man power and qualified professionals? Things don’t happen overnight and still Bhutan is in its embryonic stage in sports comparing to other part of globe. But with the FIFA Goal Projects injecting the infrastructures and Bhutan Football Federation going for long term development, we are pretty sure we could bring smile in Bhutanese faces sooner or later.

It would of great benefits if we could host the major competitions in the nations but as of now we lack lots for hosting such competitions honestly. But we are optimist as saying goes “ whatever the mind of human can conceive and believe, it can be achieve” so, if we Bhutanese could conceive and believe to host the major games like FIFA competitions,  it can be achieved but when and how depends how we plan and execute the coming days.

 Football not only has to provide the opportunity for youngsters to develop the skills that are peculiar to game; it also has to help them develop their personality, their psychological and social skills. Beside development of future players, it is essential to remember that the game of football has a wider role to play and that it has to include basic education values as part of its agenda. Football has to provide a real school of life, a school that is prepared to train and develop not only the elite players of tomorrow but also all of those youngsters who are passionate about the game and who form the base of the football pyramid that the game needs to ensure its continued progress.

Football is also for the good of the community. The sport supported the first-ever World Blood Donor Day and as part of the joint project run by WHO and other organizations, contributed again financially to fight against cholera in Mozambique, one of the country’s most affected by this insidious disease. The sport also conducts special football for peace and unification of the people. The sport support and promote the Millennium Development Goals that were agreed by UN member states in 2000. They include the fight against hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental damage and discrimination against women and child. So in short football as became the ambassador to facilitate the peace and prosperity globally.