This is the fourth time in six years that the board has been commended for its program
Pepsi ICC Development Programme Annual Award: The Bhutan cricket council board (BCCB) was declared the ‘Best Women’s Cricket Initiative’ during the Pepsi ICC (International Cricket Council) development programme annual awards held for the Asian Region in 2012.
This is the fourth time in six years that women’s cricket in Bhutan has been recognised.
Singapore had nominations in three of the eight categories, with Malaysia receiving two and Bhutan, Iran and Oman receiving one each.
The ACC (Asian Cricket Council) award winners will now join winners from the four other ICC regions as competitors for the ICC Global Awards later in the year.
The Pepsi ICC development programme annual awards were established to recognise exceptional performance and service to the game of cricket in associate and affiliate member countries.
The journey began in 2006, when ACC gave directives to the BCCB to initiate women’s cricket in the country. Bhutan had to skip the first ACC tournament for women in 2007 since the team was not prepared.
Around 20 girls from Dechencholing middle secondary school took up training for the first time in 2007. 15 more girls from Gelephu lower secondary school (LSS) joined them. From there, the first national squad was formed for the ACC U19 tournament in Thailand in 2008.
The girls returned home with 6th position among the 12 teams participating in the tournament. “Our girls seems to have been watching cricket before, since they could pick up the game quickly and, as a result, the team has been performing consistently in the U19 level,” CEO of BCCB Jigme Norbu said.
He added that, apart from China, Hong Kong, and Thailand, which started women’s cricket ahead of Bhutan, teams from Singapore, Malaysia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran and Nepal started cricket about the same time.
The first big acclaim came when Bhutanese women came second in the ACC U19 Women’s championship 2010. Two years later, they came third.
While first national squad was selected via a pilot project in Dechencholing School in Thimphu and Gelephu LSS, the first U19 school tournament was organised in Thimphu to scout talent for the national team in 2008. A year later, an U16 level was also introduced.
Apart from school tournaments in five dzongkhags, several coaching camps have been organised during summer and winter breaks, and coaches were sent to different schools.
The senior level national coaching coordinator, Damber Gurung, said that other countries have separate teams for the senior level, but in Bhutan the U19 team represents the country at the senior tournament, and performance has dipped against the elites.
The number of women players involved in cricket over the years has seen a drastic change. About 400 girls will be enrolled in various U19, U16, and U13 school tournaments in five dzongkhags starting this year.
BCCB is optimistic about the new ground coming up in Gelephu, as the thromde has approved the proposal.
By Sherub Dorji