With only seven of them, including three interns, to officiate basketball matches every week, referees have come under increasing pressure leading to fatigue.

Their decisions and foul calls during the games are being criticised, they have been repeatedly charged and disrespected by the players.

BBF referee and coach, Tshewang Dema said that the performance in the court suffers as the number of match increases.

“We face problem making accurate calls as we’re unable to reach the right positions,” she said.

A total of six officials are involved in a basketball match. The match includes three field referees, one keeps time, another keeps the score, and the last person looks after the match statistics.

The seven referees have to officiate four matches during week days and six matches on weekends in the ongoing Coronation Cup.

To ease the pressure on the referees the number of daily matches has been reduced in the A-league.

A Bhutan Basketball Federation (BBF) official said that disagreement, challenging referees, and aggressive behaviours of players have become daily challenges on the court.

BBF coach and referee, Tshewang Norbu said they are able to perform at their best up to two matches.

“We try our best to make the right calls but we’re exhausted by the end of the third match,” said the official.

The players retaliate aggressively most of the time and often react using foul language.

“However, we put such confrontations behind and try to come back strong for the next match,” the referee said.

He said that many players don’t know the rule and regulations well.

Verbally abusing, running directly at an official to complain about a foul call, excessive harsh inquiries about a decision, and misconceived foul call of players are the usual problems.

Tshewang Dema said, “Often we feel like giving up the profession.”

Tshewang Norbu fears threats to his life.

“I’ve to deal with different players daily. I feel they might come after me outside the court,” he said.

In one instance, he had to file a court case against a player. The federation was supportive in such situations, he said.

“As a lady official, it’s disheartening to hear some comments in public including seniors and highly educated people,” Tshewang Dema said.

“We become helpless in such situations.”

There were incidents when players came to play under the influence of prohibited substances. “It’s high time for us to conduct anti-doping tests and it would help the development of sports in the long run,” said an official.

The BBF hires Royal Bhutan Army referees but most often they could not come as they were engaged in their duties.

BBF conducts two major tournaments annually.

The ongoing Coronation Cup has 46 teams taking part in the championship and the other major tournament, the A-league Basketball Tournament has 10 participating clubs.