His Royal Highness Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Ashi Yeatso Lhamo inaugurated the artificial turf in Gyalpoishing, Mongar on May 10.

The inauguration began with an offering of the marchang, Zhabtoen for His Majesty The King, and purification ceremony by the Lam Neten.

Officials from Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC), Mongar dzongkhag, and the public attended the inauguration where an exhibition match was played between senior citizens, dzongkhag officials and Gyalpoizhing veteran team.

A match was also played between the girls of Gyalpoizhing Central School and Mongar Higher Secondary School.

BOC’s secretary general, Sonam Karma Tshering, said that quality sports facilities are the foundation for the development of a vibrant value-based sporting culture in Bhutan.

“It is a crucial prerequisite for the successful integration of sports and society.”

He said that the opening of the new astro turf ground in Gyalpoizhing will provide access to a world-class football field to all football enthusiasts from the eastern part of Bhutan. “We hope it will lead to the promotion of the game in the country.”

A football coach, Dawa Gyeltshen, said that the Bhutan Football Federation will conduct annual dzongkhag level football competition, inter-departmental football competition and inter-school football competitions in Gyalpoizhing.

He said that dzongkhags could produce good footballers as they could improve their techniques, gain experience, and develop technical abilities since the turf provides superior athlete safety, high performance and extreme durability.

Two class 11 student of Gyalpoizhing Central School, Namgay Dorji and Jigme Jamtsho, said that they are playing on the artificial turf for the first time. Before stepping on the ground, they closed the eyes and prayed for a while.

Another student, Pelden Zangmo, said she never heard of artificial turf until the construction began at Gyalpoizhing.

A businesswoman from Gyalpoizhing town, Sangay Zangmo, said that the artificial turf will not only benefit youth but also boom business, as more people will gather whenever there is a regional sports meet.

Locals, however, said that the BOC has to install light in the ground so people can play at night.

The artificial turf installation began from November 2015 with an estimated budget of Nu 70 million.

The government of India funded the installation under project-tied assistant programme.

Tashi Phuntsho | Mongar