11-year old Rebecca Blum has scored 3 goals in 5 games in the women’s league

Profile: It’s 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. Some 30 kids have gathered at the mini pitch in Changlimithang Stadium for a regular practise camp.

The group is divided into two teams but then an argument breaks out. The argument is over Rebecca Blum.

“Your team has her (Rebecca) … This is not fair,” says one of the kids.

This is because Rebecca Blum has a powerful kick. A 11-year old student of Rosemary School in Thimphu, Rebecca earned a name for herself after she played in the first women’s league in the country this year.

The talent displayed by this young girl is obvious on the pitch. Rebecca Blum has played a key role in taking her team, Mandala FC, to the top of the league table. The 11-year-old centre forward has scored three goals in five games so far.

Hailing from the United States, Rebecca Blum first started playing football at the age of three. She credits her abilities on the pitch to her former club back in the States, Davis Legacy FC.

“Football for me in Bhutan started from this very camp a few months ago. I was a regular since I first joined the camp. One day the coach of Mandala FC came to me and told me that he wanted me on his team,” said Rebecca Blum. “This was a perfect opportunity for me to carry on my passion in Bhutan.”

Playing with some women who are double her age, Rebecca Blum has created her own mark in women’s football in the country. The youngest player in the league and probably one of the most agile and lively, Rebecca Blum has won the respect of most football enthusiasts in the country.

“During the first game I was bit nervous because I didn’t know what they wanted me to do exactly,” she said. “The following games became much easier and more comfortable for me as the girls in the team helped me adjust. They were very encouraging.”

Rebecca Blum said that every game during the league so far has been a learning experience for her. “More than football, playing in Bhutan with the Bhutanese girls has taught me to become tougher. But more than that it has taught me to become nicer.”

She said that although more women play football in the States, the quality of the game didn’t have a major difference. “I’m impressed with the talent of Bhutanese women footballers. Though it is being conducted for the first time, it’s a high quality league,” said Rebecca Blum.

Rebecca said that apart from just playing the game and making memories during her stay in the country, she wanted to be recognised in the society not as a foreigner but as a footballer.

“I don’t want people to just say, hey, look a chillip (foreigner). I want to fit in. I want people to see me as a soccer player and not just a foreigner,” said Rebecca.

Apart from football, Rebecca is a keen athlete. She enjoys gymnastics and loves to swim. During weekends, Rebecca engages herself in tennis as well.

However, Rebecca will not be completing the season, as her parents who are visiting lecturers at the Royal Thimphu College will be leaving the country towards the end of next month.

“After I leave Bhutan, I’ll continue my passion for soccer with my former club,” she said. “I’ll train hard and try to make it into the team. Even if I can’t make it into the team, I’ll keep training harder and keep improving.”

Younten Tshedup