Thinley Namgay

Eight higher secondary schools have been selected for the upcoming maiden Bhutan Higher Secondary School Football Championship (BHSSFC) in Phuentsholing next month.

The nine-day league cum knockout tournament will commence on January 11 among eight schools that topped the four regional tournaments held between August and November.

The qualified schools are Chukha Central School (CS), Gesarling Higher Secondary School (HSS), Jakar HSS, and Gyalpozhing HSS. The other four schools are Baylling CS, Nangkor CS, Ugyen Academy, and Yangchenphug HSS.

Ugyen Academy and Yangchenphug HSS won the recent western regional tournament in Punakha. Ugyen Academy won both games against Yangchenphug and Shaba HSS.

The regional championship followed a single-league format.

The Baylling CS and Nangkor CS were the eastern regional champions held in Samdrupjongkhar in October. Both teams earned six points each from three games.

Chukha CS and Gesarling HSS got through the southern regional championship in September. From three matches, Chukha won two.

Jakar HSS and Gyalpozhing HSS sealed their places in the central regional tournament held in August. Jakar recorded four straight wins whereas Gyalpozhing HSS won three.

The winner of the BHSSFC will represent Bhutan in the South Asia High School Football Championship which is expected to be hosted by Bhutan.

The three-year BHSSFC will be coordinated by the Bhutan Football Federation and the Department of Youth and Sports under the education ministry.

The tournament was supposed to be held at Changlimithang Stadium. However, BHSSFC’s focal person Ugyen Dorji said that the venue was changed to Phuentsholing considering the harsh winter climatic conditions of Thimphu.

In the first phase of the BHSSFC, 71 HSSs from across the country played the district league in a home-and-away format from June conducted by the school sports instructors depending on clusters.

Twenty district winners were selected for the four regional championships.

BHSSFC aims to foster mass participation in football at the grassroots level and enhance youth football quality.

BHSSFC is also expected to address the growing concerns of regional imbalance in terms of representation at the national level. It will also be an opportunity for the club owners to select competent players for the club.