Bhutan’s national game is archery yet no other sport is as popular as football and basketball are. Football officially became a sport during the reign of the third dragon king.The recent historic win in the word cup qualifying games clearly signify that the people of this nation have the potentials to explore so that may be one day, Bhutan will bring home the world cup too.
However football in Bhutan has maintained a snail-like progress starting from the 1980’s when Bhutan started playing in International field among south asian nations. Bhutan has played about 63 international matches and only managed to win 3 games. Bhutan’s national football team is currently ranked worst by FIFA with not a single ranking point.
The silver lining to very less or no commitment from the governments side towards this game and its players has led to the local community popularising and promoting football in recent years.
The Bhutan Football Federation who is the governing body and controls Bhutan National Football team only recently managed to install the turf during the visit of FIFA president in 2012,until then our national players were not subject to quality fields.Ever since the installation of the turf more and more football enthusiast have taken their personal initiatives by establishing clubs which help to identify young talents.Bhutan Olympic Committee who play a role equal to a ministry looking after sports and the national football team have often been linked with corruption and officials who only look forward in attending international games.
In this tiny Himalayan kingdom, football has become so popular that it now affects the local and global economy by providing employment as players, coaches and sponsors who invest in the clubs. Like the Manchester united, one of the oldest clubs in the U.K we also have our very own Thimphu United established in 2014 by Yiwang Pindarica and her sister Namzay Kumutha. Their club which is now known as the Thimphu FC is sponsored by Drangchu Beverages.
The kings cup which took place in 2014 was a stepping stone as International teams from India, Thailand, and Bangladesh. During the King’s cup Namzay and her sister met a local club from India called the Pune FC. After that they were invited to Pune to witness for themselves first hand on how to manage an actual club. Although Both Namzay and her sister are engaged with their work they have made personal tours and sponsored players for international tour. Namzay who works at HM’s secretariat also manages a camp for children of the armed forces which was envisioned by His Majesty where sport, education, and particularly, “Football,” is prioritized. Namzay and her sister are what the future generation will remember as the,’Founding mother’s of football,’ in Bhutan.
Most Bhutanese remain skeptic about investing in clubs and taking football as a career, but people like Namzay will continue to garner support from sponsors and she hopes that one day she and her sister will train boys as young as 10 to play football in this not so tiny Himalayan kingdom.