The on-going football tournament, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Memorial Gold Cup is one of the oldest football tournaments in the country and it was first played in 1975. However, JDW Memorial Gold Cup was last played in 2006 and it hasn’t been played until this year. So after12-year gap, it is being re-organized by Bhutan Football Federation (BFF).
The tournament is underway in Phuentsholing Sports Association (PSA) ground in Phuentsholing. 12 teams are taking part in the competition and of the total registered teams, 6 are local teams, 2 from Nepal and 4 from India. In addition, there are 8 foreign players in 6 local teams.
An official from BFF said that football is one of the major events in the country and sports matter for the better development of the country. He said, “Having international players or competitors will help to bring in exposures to our local players.”
Having international players would encourage youths and local players because they will take this as a platform to learn more and it can be a development initiative, he added. He also said that if they need to have any infrastructure development in the country, then organizing such an event would help.
Their main focus was to develop infrastructure in the country so to give people an opportunity to take up football. If facilities are provided, there are many who want to come forward and play, he added.
He also said that the participation of youth in football is huge and they have come up with grassroots programs in 19 districts, except for Gasa district. As of now, 78, 000 youth turnout has been reported, inclusive of children above the age of 6 years and female from 523 schools, which he said was quite amazing to train them.
In addition, he said that Bhutan is only the country among the South Asian region that has a women football academy center, established in Gelephu. All the women are provided with hostel facilities. Under 15 (years of age) and under 17 are the two categories being trained in the academy.
Respectively, the participation of women in the tournament has also increased, he said, adding that, this year women national team will be going to Japan for training and they will be taking part in SAF game in Nepal. He said, “We are also investing for women’s participation and all the women team in the region is going great. We see a better chance for them in the future.”
Ha also said that football is a passionate game and with facilities available, it will definitely help youths in keeping away from any criminal acts.
For the long term, he said that BFF is coming up with a football school academy for both men and women. They have already started with the construction, one in Gelephu and one in Thimphu. The initiative along with the syllabus is being approved by the Education Ministry. Until lunch, they will have a classes and thereafter have practice sessions.
He said that every year they will take in 40 to 50 students and accordingly they will go for a selection.
JDW gold cup will conclude on 22 February and it is solely funded by BFF. The prize money will be Nu 200,000 for winner and Nu 100, 000 for runners up. Organizing such event includes so much of cost and hazel (procedure), he said, adding that, they would expect support from government and other agencies, at least with the procedure even if not financially.
If support is provided, every training and big tournaments can be conducted smoothly, he added. He said they are thankful to the department of immigration for their continuous support.