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Bhutanese striker Chencho Gyeltshen pushed the boundaries in football
Bhutanese striker Chencho Gyeltshen pushed the boundaries in football

A mixed bag for sports

Inclusive and moving towards more professional development, sports went through all sorts of sentiments in the year of dog. It saw moments of celebrations, victories, and despairs.

While women performed well in football, it did not favour girls playing football in the country. BFF dropped their plan to increase the prize money for the lone women’s league in the country.

Despite their brilliance, the unfairness for women in football continued when the under 15 girls who bagged their first bronze in the under 15 SAFF championship went unrecognised.

But women continued to perform on the pitch winning the hearts of supporters at home.

Under-15 girls defeated Nepal and secured its biggest 6-0 win against Sri Lanka in Thimphu. The national under-18 women’s team followed suit thrashing the Maldives 13-0 at U-18 SAFF championship at home.

However, women’s football matches continue to receive low prize money, only about 4.5 percent of the total prize money the federation spends annually.

The men’s football became more visible to Indian clubs after Chencho Gyeltshen’s presence in I League. It led to Minerva Punjab FC calling two Bhutanese internationals for two weeks trial in Punjab, India.

In what could be a major boost to enable professional football in the country, a new club from Paro dzongkhag performed well in their national league debut.

The well-managed Club, formed by football enthusiasts came until the final round of national league but went in short of a point to finish as champions in their debut. However, their performance in the league caught the hearts of many following football in the country.

Despite recording a draw at home, Transport United FC suffered 3-0 loss to Bengaluru FC at the AFC Cup qualification. The same old story of returning home by the end of preliminary qualifications round for the local clubs at the international arena repeated.

The highest sports governing body, Bhutan Olympic Committee, in the year of dog registered new sports association but lost one of the most successful federations, Bhutan Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Federation that bagged the highest number of medals from international championships.

The situation led to enthusiastic gym goers and fitness lovers looking out with a dim expectation for their most anticipated annual Mr Bhutan contest to only see the year pass by without the most sought competition.

The dog year also barred a Mr Bhutan titleholder for life following a controversy in one of the international competitions.

Gasa Dzongkhag Sports Association, Bhutan Aquatic Federation and Bhutan Paralympic committee made it to the umbrella of BOC.

The year of dog surprised those following cricket at home when national men cricket team bagging its first international title after winning Asian Cricket Council T20 Eastern Region in Thailand.

Following the formation of the national Paralympic committee, the year was an eye opener for children living with disabilities. An initiative to bring together abled children with children with disabilities was initiated.

The sports movement was also used to spread important awareness programmes on critical health issues.

The year saw two Para athletes participate at the third Asian Para games in Indonesia, the highest competition ever athletes living with disabilities participated so far.

The athletics field, unlike the previous year, played Olympic gold medalist from Japan to help prepare young athletes to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The athletic competitions at home secured two new records in high jumps.

The ninth edition of the most coveted sports event in the country – Tour of the Dragon saw its first place going to a cyclist from the United States.

Karate players brought home two gold and a bronze from the 3rd international Shoto Cup Karate-Do held in India.

Despite continuing to receive the least budgetary support, the sports sector enters the pig year with new events and plans to better its growth in the country.

Nima

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