Lack of sports facility is a hurdle
Close to 300 youths in Thimphu are engaged by the football clubs and academies in the under (U) 12 and 16 categories and other grassroots programmes.
Over the years, football has gained momentum in the country.
The clubs are aspiring to produce talented footballers for the clubs and national squad.
Thimphu City FC engages around 60 children currently.
Thimphu City FC’s president, Hishey Tshering, said the club has U-16 and U-14 for the official matches. “For training, we take kids of all ages. So, in our academy, we have kids from six years and above until 14 years.”
He said that the club is providing free training for some youth during the weekend.
Hishey Tshering said the biggest challenge is sustainability as the club has 40 people employed as either player, coaches and management staff.
He said that despite the financial issue, the club allows kids to practice for free of cost in the club’s mini pitch when it is not occupied.
Transport United FC involves about 100 youth.
Transport’s coach, Bikash Pradhan, said that club would also start grassroots programmes in Phuentsholing, Samtse, and Tsirang from next month.
Paro FC trains 138 youths. Headcoach and technical director, Puspalal Sharma, said that for compressive training, the club would increase the number of practice days.
The club trains its youth team four times a week and other grassroots groups twice a week.
FC Takin has 27 U-14 youth.
Mindu CC Dorji of FC Takin that his club would not entertain more than 30 youth to ensure quality training. He said that his team has two coaches to look after the grassroots programme.
Mindu CC Dorji said that the lack of ground for the training is a major challenge.
There is a growing interest among parents to engage their children in sports. Football is one. But many say that coaching and training is limited because of the shortage of infrastructure (training grounds).
A parent said that lack of infrastructure is discouraging parents even if they know the value of sports. “There are more archery fields than football grounds or basketball courts,” a parent said. “If the government is serious about promoting sports or engaging the youth meaningfully, there should be more investment in sports.”
The football clubs understood the importance of nurturing skills, but the lack of infrastructure is discouraging both clubs and parents. “I stopped my son from attending after learning that he gets to play only for an hour in the midday heat. The timings are odd because there are limited facilities,” a parent said.