Football: It is midnight. There are people still in Changlimithang ground, footballers chatting away after game.

Except on Mondays and Fridays, the stadium remains booked from 8am until midnight. Teams book the pitch weeks ahead.

Kumar, the caretaker, said that about 15 games are played during weekends on an average. Students who are on vacation utilize the ground during the day on weekdays.

Fee structure varies for weekday and weekend games. There is also different fee for day and night game. On weekdays, fee for a day game is Nu 3,500. For a night game, an additional Nu 1,000 is charged for using floodlights. Nu 4,500 is charged for a weekend game and Nu 5,500 during night.

Fee for weekend games is higher because the demand for the ground is comparatively higher. “We provide a referee for all games whose charge is also covered,” said Kumar.

On an average, about 25 games are played in a week at the stadium. Bhutan Football Federation’s finance officer, Tara Bir Rai, said that approximately Nu 300,000 is collected every month from Changlimithang and Changjiji grounds.

Fee collected from Changlimithang is comparatively higher because Changjiji ground serves as a practice ground for the national players and is not leased often. “However, during offseason, we lease the ground if there is demand,” added Tara Bir Rai.

Money collected goes to the federation’s savings, which will be used to replace the turf and to cover other maintenance cost.

Tara Bir Rai said that according to the international standards, the artificial turf (astro turf) should last for about eight years. However, because the ground is “over-used” in the country, turf needs to be replaced after every five years.

The federation keeps record of bookings made and issues receipts. The receipt, however, is not issued instantly.

Tara Bir Rai said that the caretaker submits the money to the federation and only then a receipt is prepared. “The amount is registered with us. People can come and take the receipt anytime they need,” he said.

Currently, there are four grounds with artificial turf in the Thimphu, including two futsal grounds. Five more grounds with astro turf are being planned.

Younten Tshedup