Deki Lhazom

Deki Lhazom is 1st Bhutanese woman to play in a foreign league

Usha Drukpa/ Thimphu

18-year-old Deki Lhazom from Trashigang is the first Bhutanese woman footballer to play in a professional league in Saudi Arabia. She started playing football at the age of eight.

She shared that she started playing football when she was just eight years old and while in Chukha, she was not aware of women’s football. She said  she draws inspiration from one of the best professional footballers in the world, Lionel Messi.

Deki’s district coach in Trashiyangtse noticed her talent while she was playing football in the school.

According to the Bhutan Football Federation, Deki was scouted by one of the then Federation’s Focal person, and she traveled to Gelephu for the first time for the winter selection camp, “The Milo Cup” in 2017.  She joined the Academy in the same year. Since then, she has represented Bhutan, at both youth and at the senior level on the international stage.

Her first appearance for Bhutan was in the U15 SAFF championship in 2017. She participated in every youth SAFF championship since then, and made her first appearance in the Senior Team at the Women’s SAFF Champion in Nepal this year.

She played an important role in securing a win against Sri Lanka, and a spot in the semi-finals. On top of that, she was also a regular starter for the team, which is an impressive feat for the youngest player on the team.

After the SAFF championship, the team traveled to Saudi Arabia for an International Friendly Game where she impressed various club representatives and members of the Saudi Arabia National Team that she got herself a professional contract with a Saudi Club called AL-ittihad FC.

Deki said after returning home after the international friendly match in Saudi Arabia, one of the national players of Saudi Arabia texted her on her Instagram account, and after chatting for a few days, Deki received an invitation from the football management of AI-Ittihad club.

Al-Ittihad is one of the most successful clubs in Saudi Arabia. It has 33 official honours, 28 of which are domestic. In addition to their continental successes, the club is one of the only three Asian clubs to have won the AFC Champions League twice in a row.

So far, Deki has registered 7 international goals and that too just at the age of 18.  She is setting a great example as well as paving the path for aspiring young girls.

“I will try to perform my best, both on and off the pitch, and thank my family for supporting me and letting me play football. I also thank my coaches, especially coach Karma Dema for selecting me from the district and grooming me, and lastly, Bhutan Football Federation for giving me an opportunity and supporting me, and to all the women football lovers in the country, ” said Deki Lhazom.

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