Chencho Dorji, Bhutan’s lone international football coach looks beyond horizon

Thinley Namgay

Chencho Dorji, 38, joined Sudeva Residential Football Academy in New Delhi in November as the head coach.

His contract period will complete in May next year.

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The Bhutanese international coach has been regularly coaching footballers at the Academy amid Covid-19.

Covid-19 has not affected the regular training at Sudeva due to the decent infrastructure and proper precautionary measures, according to Chencho Dorji. “Players are doing regular training closed-doors.”

He said that players are providing vegetarian food unlike before due to safety reasons. Currently, the academy has 140 Junior and 30 senior players.

“I was encouraged by the hard work of players and support from the management,” said Chencho Dorji, adding that Sudeva has a promising youth team from different age group (under- 13, 15 and 18) participating in all youth league every year. The senior team is likely to compete in the Hero I-League soon.

Chencho Dorji became the first Bhutanese coach to be hired by an international football academy in March last year when he became a new youth coach for Manipur-based FC Imphal City.

Chencho Dorji said that it was not easy to decide a career as a football coach. “People do not take footballing as a profession. I always wanted to improve the quality as a football coach and to work outside Bhutan, which is not an easy task.”

Chencho Dorji is from Mongar. He served as a national coach for 12 years since 2007 under the Bhutan Football Federation. Besides coaching senior players, he also coached the junior teams for various international platforms such as SAFF U-19 at Nepal, U-16 at Sri Lanka and Japan, and U-16 AFC qualification at Iran.

Risk-taking was essential for all the coaches, according to Chencho Dorji. “International coaches take risks and look at challenges as opportunities.”

Chencho Dorji also said that the coaches’ education was a vital factor in developing good players. “It must continue. Our coaches need to explore and work outside Bhutan.”

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