Thinley Namgay     

Bhutan Cricket has been nominated for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Global awards in the “ICC Cricket 4 Good Social Impact Initiative of the Year” category.

The ICC Cricket 4 Good Social Impact Initiative of the Year award recognises an outstanding initiative where cricket is used as a medium for social change.

The ICC recognised Bhutan for introducing cricket in remote rural areas last year. Bhutan won the bid from the Asian region. Italy, Peru, Nigeria and Samoa were also nominated for this category.

Other categories of awards are- ICC Digital Fan Engagement of the Year, ICC Development Initiative of the Year, ICC Associate Member Men’s Performance of the Year, and ICC Associate Member Women’s Performance of the Year.

The award ceremony is expected to be held during the ICC annual general meeting in July. The host country is yet to decide.

If Bhutan wins this time, it will be the second global award after the 2018 change initiative of the year award.

Bhutan Cricket’s Chief Executive Officer, Damber S Gurung, said despite the disruption of many cricket activities by the pandemic in the last two years, Bhutan Cricket managed to introduce cricket in some places.

However, he said the cricket activities in remote Merak and Sakteng last year played a significant role in the nomination.

Damber S Gurung said the ICC cricket programme in Merak and Sakteng was unique.  He said it took two days by road from the capital to reach Trashigang and one day to walk to reach the respective schools.

Merak Primary School and  Sakteng Lower Secondary School are among the few remote schools in Bhutan where such programmes were not conducted in the past.

During the programme, 484 students got an opportunity to experience cricket for the first time. Each participant received a plastic bat and ball sponsored by UNICEF Bhutan. Twenty-six teachers also participated.

Besides club tournaments last year, Bhutan Cricket conducted ICC criiio programme in 100 schools in 11 districts, which is the highest among other nations. A total of 26,387 students participated in the programme with the support of 64 volunteers, permanent coaches, part-time coaches and teachers.

Damber S Gurung said many schools have now started intra-school tournaments to continue the cricket development programme.

He said that Bhutan Cricket distributed more than a thousand plastic bats and soft tennis balls to districts, schools, and communities. Over 47 intra-school competitions were held for different age groups in 19 schools.

Damber S Gurung said: “I believe that if you work together, you can win together. My humble thanks to the coaches, cricket coordinators, volunteers, teachers, dzongkhag administrations, and most importantly, our future cricketers for participating in this programme.”

As per the ICC, Bhutan’s delivery of cricket programmes scaled new heights.