Jigmi Wangdi

It is cold in Thimphu, but there are plans to make the FIFA World Cup 2022, moved to winter to escape the desert heat, an exciting experience.

To make it fun for football fans, the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) will be screening every game on a giant digital screen at the volleyball court at Changlimithang. An official from BFF said that they are keeping options open for the timings.

“Some matches will be played late after midnight, but if there are still people who are interested, we will screen the matches,” the official said. BFF will also be organising activities such as lucky draws during half-times of every match.

“We want to keep the people engaged during the matches. We will give out prices such as data recharge vouchers, city bus smartcards, etc. through the lucky draws,” said the official. The BFF is also planning to organise more activities once the round of 16 begins.

Fans wanting to escape the winter chill can turn to the numerous  pubs and bars in Thimphu who have their own activities for the World Cup. A popular rooftop bar located in Changlam square, Blackout,  will screen the entire tournament. The owner is planning to conduct lucky draws along with other activities to give their patrons an exciting and fun experience during the tournament.

Last week, three men were seen putting the final touches on their small bar in Babesa. Still smelling of fresh paint, it is turning into a sports bar. “Come and join us. It will be fun,” said one. “We want to make it an exciting experience.”

Besides venues to watch the matches, fans are also organising online activities among friends and families to make the tournament interesting.

Tashi, 29, is organising a betting pool among his friends. His 16 friends will pick two countries each  for  Nu 1,000 a team. “There is always a different excitement when people have a reason to watch the matches,” he said. The money collected will be given as the prize.

Choden, 26, is organising a similar activity with her family. “We have 32 members who are participating in this year’s World Cup. Each member has been given a country based on a lucky draw with a fee of Nu 2,000 each,” she said. Choden’s luck is not bad. She got Spain, the 2010 world champion. “I am really hopeful they will make it to the finals,” she said.

A football enthusiast created a website where fans can register with a Nu 1,000 fee and predict winners of the day’s fixture, goals scored to accumulate points. “I want to make it fun for other football enthusiasts and rather than betting on a country, I wanted to create a platform where people can predict scores of the matches. The individual with the most points at the end of the tournament will be the winner,” he said.

The first game between host nation Qatar and Ecuador kicks off on Sunday at 9:30 pm. Bhutan is three hours ahead of Qatar.