YK Poudel 

After a month-long intense training, 13 Bhutanese judokas have arrived in Nepal today for the 2023 Nepal Confederation of Sports (NECOS) Junior Judo Tournament.

The two girls and 11 boys will compete under two categories, Under-21 and Under-18. The three-day tournament will end on March 19. 

The participants were selected based on their performances at the winter judo tournament last month and the judo camp held last year.

Three national coaches and two Japanese senseis (tutors) trained the players.

Bhutan Judo Association’s Assistant Coach, Purna Gurung said that they were briefed on international tournament rules and mat etiquette. “The judokas are in good form and we are hopeful of a positive outcome.”

“Despite the lack of experience in an international tournament, as many are new players, the judokas have the potential to win gold medals,” he said.

Over the years, the coach said, judokas have improved in all categories. “If they continue with the same energy, they can win gold. But almost all of them are playing for the first time on an international stage. So they could be nervous,” said Purna Gurung.

Judokas said that the training was helpful for their physical development and in preparing for the international stage.

Lhendup Dorji, 18, said that he participated in the NECOS tournament in 2018. “The tournament was tough as I had no idea of the opponent. Now with some exposure, we are hopeful of a better outcome.”

Another judoka, Minzur Peldon, who is studying at Yangchenphug HSS said that the training was helpful in building stamina and learning techniques.

“I was happy to be selected for the NECOS tournament. I will work hard to bring home a gold medal as well as be an exemplary judoka for other girls,” said the 15-year-old girl.

A Zilnoen Namgyelling LSS student, Tenzin Pelzang, 13, said that he has trained well for the entire period and is confident to perform well. “It is my first time and we are taught the international mat etiquette and norms in judo. I’m hoping to stand in one of the top three levels.”

NECOS Junior Judo Tournament will see over 100 non-national team judoka participants from various judo clubs in Nepal and a team from Bhutan.