Not many have heard of it and fewer people have seen them play, but baseball and softball, the latest sports to enter the country, are gaining steam within a short span of time.
The sports came to Bhutan in 2013 as a community association. Within one month of its inception, more than 500 players attended training sessions in Thimphu.
Today, the Bhutan Baseball and Softball has around 800 youth and adult members.
Bhutan Baseball and Softball started in 2013 by Karma Dorji and an American, Matthew DeSantis, as a community association that included youth practices and games for ages six to 18 years, local club teams for individuals above 16 years and an adult national league for 18 years and above.
The Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency helped in establishing the sport.
In 2014, Bhutan Baseball and Softball formed the adult national league. The league consists of three teams – BCCB, Due Ten Du Pawos and the Druk Minups. Team BCCB is the reigning champions.
Karma Dorji said that the Bhutan Baseball and Softball has a good number of players and coaches who turn up for the programmes regularly. “We receive multiple inquiries daily on our social media channels for new player registration. We are inspired to develop Bhutanese players to compete at the highest levels, internationally.”
He said that baseball players need good hand-eye coordination, fast reflexes, tough mentality, strong throwing arms and fluid momentum with their swings. “Bhutanese are naturally very good baseball players.”
Most of the practice and games are held at Motithang and Yangchenphug HSS. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only basic drills and familiarisation of the game are conducted among students today.
Players also practice at the Thimphu Athletics Track and Field Centre, cricket fields, Pelkhil school, and other schools.
Bhutan Baseball and Softball is organising the first Interscholastic League next year in Thimphu.
The inaugural international camp for players and coaches is also set to take place next year. The event will be hosted by a US non-profit organisation – Play Global, that teaches baseball to coaches and youth in developing countries.
Players and coaches of all ages and from all parts can join the event. Beginners can register on www.bhutanbaseball.org.
Karma Dorji said that besides the international camp, the Bhutan Baseball and Softball was also in conversation with the Bangladesh national team to come to Bhutan for a friendly match.
Bhutan Baseball and Softball is also trying to take the game beyond Thimphu. BOC conducts baseball camps in other dzongkhags during the annual Olympic Day.