Jigmi Wangdi

Fifty-two students from remote schools in Bhutan came to Thimphu to undergo a five-day programme organised by the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) at Changlingmithang.

The students between the ages of 8 and 14 are mostly from schools situated in the highlands.

Five schools—Getena Primary School, Nimtola Primary School, Dagana, Lingzhi Primary School, Barishong ECR, and Soe ECR are taking part in the programme.

The main objectives of the programme are to improve integration, education and development, experience, motivation and fun for learning.

BFF’s President, Ugen Tsechup, said that the purpose of this programme is to give the children a fun experience and exposure through football.

“We focused on the youth from remote schools because we want to give them exposure. Some of these children have never been to Thimphu or other dzongkhags. We want the children to enjoy their time here and experience things that they do not in their villages,” the president said.

He also added that the BFF wants to inspire children coming from the remote schools to pursue football as possible careers in the future. “Academic achievements are important, but the overall development of the child is important, too. Football, like many other sports, teaches children discipline, which will go a long way in life.”

Nimtola Primary School’s principal, Pem Tshering, said that programmes like this provide a big opportunity to children in remote parts of Bhutan. “My students have been excited to come to Thimphu ever since I told them about the event. Some of them even made a ball out of rags to play football. Coming from a remote area, some of the children have never been to Thimphu, let alone seeing a football ground like this.”

Pem Tshering said that he and the other teachers are thankful to BFF for giving their students this opportunity. “This is probably the first time these students got the chance to wear boots and football kits. They were so excited that they woke up from 5am this morning and disturbed the entire hotel,” he added, “Our children are physically stronger because they have to work in their villages apart from studying and I believe with the right training and opportunity, we can tap their potential.

“For me, this is what wholesome education is about. We are living in the 21st century and we cannot just be focused on academics. Our kids need this type of training to improve and enhance their skills as individuals which can help them earn a living in the future,” said Pem Tshering.

He added that he hopes that BFF organises such programme every year to give more children in remote schools exposure and that it would be successful if the ministry of education and BFF collaborated to get a wider reach.

Karma Yugsel, 12, is from Nimtola Primary School. He said that he was excited to come to Thimphu. “I am happy that I am here with my friends and students from the other schools. If given the opportunity, I would love to come again next year,” he said.

BFF plans to include more schools located in remote areas in the programme.