The Football Academy in Bhutan was established to produce good football players in the country.
The Head Coach of the National Football Team and the Technical Director, BFF, Chokey Nima, said the Football Academy allows for all football players to stay together and train as a team. “If we don’t keep all the players together, we do not get a chance to train them,” the coach said.
The Football Academy normally keeps 22 of the best players who are above 13 years old for seven to eight months in a year under the supervision of qualified coaches. Currently, there are 80 young footballers in the Football Academy; 60 young boys aged 13-20, 15-20, and 18-20 and 20 young girls. “
As of now, we have only two football academies, one in Changjiji in Thimphu and other in Gelephu. May be in the future, football academies might be established in other district as well, but we have employed grassroot coaches and our focal person in 18 districts to nurture football players,” the head coach said.
The coaches in the districts conduct inter-dzongkhag football tournaments to pick out their best players from 20 districts. BFF further selects 20 young best players among the best district players for the academy in Gelephu at the end of the year.
The young players of the academy receive football training under qualified coaches, free accommodation, food, school stationeries, dropping and picking from schools. “Even children who cannot qualify from Class X or class XII, are provided with scholarship,” Chokey Nima said.
The Football Academy has plans of sending good players to the regional football academies that have better infrastructure and equipment.
The head coach said, “We have to professionalize the sport, as of now we don’t have professional football players and everybody gives priority to the academics. While it is true that football cannot make a living for individual as of now, but in future we can change a lot of things.”
The President, Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), Ugen Tsechup Dorji, said that the entire program in the academy is run by BFF. He said, “If parents can recognize the importance of football academy and allow their children to enroll, that would be support from parents’ side.”
He said BFF manages a strong long-term youth program. “The future mission of this academy is to create a very strong youth foundation, whereby the foundation of the football is made strong, not only concentrating on National Football Team, for one or two years.”
“We continue to produce good football players from the youth program as that is the main plan of the Football Academy,” the BFF President said.
The Football Academy in Changjiji has eight staff and operates on a budget provided by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA.