Thinley Namgay  

Bhutan rose seven places in FIFA Women’s World Ranking this year to sit 171st among 188 countries, which is a major improvement so far. 

FIFA attributed Bhutan as the rising team.  Last year, Bhutan ranked 178th, only 10 places off the bottom.    

Besides Bhutan, Iran also showed drastic progress in its ranking by climbing six places to 61st.  

The standing of the top five countries, the USA, Germany, Sweden, England, and France remained unchanged.   

The national women’s football team captain, Pema Choden Tshering, said that one of the factors for rank improvement was the opportunity to play more international matches in the past nine months. 

She said the team gained more exposure and confidence by featuring in international games and could win against some countries. “It is also due to the support from the management and staff.”  

In less than a year,  Bhutan defeated four countries: Sri Lanka 5-0, Saudi Arabia 4-2, Jordan 2-1 and Timor Leste 3-1. 

Officials from the Bhutan Football Federation said that women’s football in the country gained momentum owing to its girls’ academy in Gelephu which helped to produce a good national squad by providing timely training and assistance. 

The girls’ academy in Gelephu was started in 2015. Potential footballers from across the country train there after getting selected from talent camps.  

Currently, the academy has a full-sided astro turf pitch, mini pitch, gym facilities, AFC-licensed coaches, and medical and technical staff, among others.  

Officials also said the rise in the ranking could also be due to experience from more local tournaments. Today, major tournaments include the national women league, national women league qualifier, and Thimphu women’s league.