Bhutan Football Federation will host SAFF U-18 championship that will begin from September 18 to 27.
This happens after 18 years of the federation’s affiliation with South Asian Football Federation (SAFF).
A total of six SAARC countries: India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Bhutan will take part in the championship. However, two nations of SAARC region, Pakistan and Afghanistan, will not participate in the event.
Bhutan is the second country in the SAARC region to host the second biggest youth continental tournament after Nepal that hosted the first edition of U-18 SAFF championship in 2015.
The SAFF U-18 championship 2017 is the first SAFF event that Bhutan is hosting. The selection of the host for the tournament was held in Bangladesh on July 10, 2017.
BFF’s general secretary, Ugyen Wangchuk, said that hosting of the tournament is an opportunity for the people to see the grassroots football standards in Bhutan.
“To be the host of the international tournament is not an easy task. We were not confident financially to host the tournament. However, SAFF provided monetary support to host the event,” Ugyen Wangchuk said.
SAFF supported the federation with the budget of USD 150,000 to host the regional championship.
“We will try to be a good host so that we will be given a bigger opportunity by SAFF in the future. Organising the event is not only about conducting a good game; we have to arrange lodging and transportation facilities to the six participating countries,” said Ugyen Wangchuk.
He added that many countries do not host such tournament as it involves heavy expenditure. “We are trying to conduct the tournament so that we will be able to give our players the advantage of playing on the home ground with the support of the home crowd.”
However, the federation is concerned about arranging hotels and transportation as the time of championship coincides with the arrival of maximum tourist in the country.
Bhutan will play against the title favorites India in the opening match at Changlimithang Stadium on September 18.