A sporting culture

Bhutan’s recent wins over Maldives and defending champion Nepal in the under-18 SAAF championship has naturally generated a lot of national attention and support for the young team.

Predictions are already being made about this being the next national team. From the way the boys have been playing and with time on their side, this is a real possibility.

Football in general has generated a lot of excitement since the World Cup qualifier matches. One reason was that for a long time Bhutan was at the bottom of the FIFA rankings, while on the other hand the game has a sizeable constituency in Bhutan.

Some of the successes we have seen of late has not happened over night but instead has taken years of support and preparation from the right football grounds to the right coaches and support.

Here the roles played by the Bhutan Olympic Committee and the also the Bhutan Football Federation must be commended.

Be it football or any other sports, the right eco system starting from the grassroots must be created, where children at a young age right from school should have the facilities and platform to show their talent.

From there on sporting bodies and associations should be able to identify and groom young talent from an early age and there should be a career path for these young sportsmen and women.

For all the noise around the national football team most of its members have to hold onto day jobs for sustenance while they play football as a passion and for their country.

So it is important to also provide some financial support for our players and athletes so that financial considerations do not take them away from sports.

Here several innovative ideas could be tried from the government giving salaries to national players to our corporate sector sponsoring teams in return for some advertisement space etc.

While the nation goes heady in victory it is also important to stand by our sports people in defeat too as sports in Bhutan can only develop through a consistent and long term approach.

Sports is not just entertainment for a nation, but it is a way of life to inspire our youth to take it up and stay away from harmful activities.  Sporting infrastructure gets used not only by national teams but also by ordinary people.

In a time of growing lifestyle diseases and youth issues the promotion of sports and a sporting culture is the need of the hour.

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.
Bobby Unser

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