Thinley Namgay 

His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, the President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee inaugurated the Changjiji Football Academy School in Thimphu yesterday.

The academic session in the school began in April and has 44 footballers in classes VII to X .  Today, the school has nine teachers including the principal.

Classes begin at 8am and end at 1pm. Students practice football from 2pm for at least four hours.

In the past, these students have to rush to training after school ends at 3:30pm.  Earlier, they usually practised football for two hours a day.

Today, the school has an ICT lab, powerpoint facilities in classrooms, a gym, and a conference hall. The school lacks a proper library and science lab.

Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) Academy has 60 students aged 18 years and below. The remaining students are studying in Loselling and Yangchenphug school in class VI and XII.

BFF’s President Ugen Tsechup said the academy was an important milestone for BFF as their vision is to develop the academy into a centre of excellence, where children from all over the world can study and train in the future.

He said Bhutan is setting an example to the region where not many football academies have such facilities which focus both on academics and sport.

Ugen Tsechup said: “The academy would encourage the students to improve their skills not only physically but it would also give time to speak to the children about mental and other aspects of building their character.”

To give the required skills to the children, he said the BFF would increase the number of international coaches to ensure that Bhutanese players become competent in the country, region and international level.

He said the boarding facilities would be further improved to cater to international students. He also said that a similar academy will be established in Gelephu to provide equal opportunities for women.

“BFF is hoping that parents who think their children have the ability will now encourage them to come and study at BFF academy,” he said.

According to BFF’s media and marketing head Phuntsho Wangdi, BBF will make sure that all class VI to XII students get an opportunity to study in the academy itself.  He also said that a proper library and science lab would also be put in place.

Officials also said that new hostels will be constructed to cater to more students.

The academy’s Principal Chencho Namgyel said that the syllabus is the same as prescribed in the education curriculum. “But students in this school focus more on football. There are no other curricular activities and social work like other schools.”

The night study is from 8pm to 9pm.

“There is no morning study for the students because they undergo intense training and need good rest,” Chencho Namgyel said.

The teachers, recruited through open competition, are paid by the BFF.

A class X student Pema Zangpo from Samdrupjongkhar feels confident to ask questions to the teachers due to fewer students.  “In the past, we get exhausted in the school itself.”

“We can compete with other schools in terms of studies. I want to be a professional footballer, but I give equal importance to study,” the 17-year-old said.

Students said that the diet was good and the facilities better than their previous schools.