Educators from across the country at a national sports seminar in Punakha recognised and acknowledged that students’ active engagement in sports is a crucial component in instilling value-based education. There is no denying how important sports is as a powerful tool for instilling positive values in students.

Disciplines such as responsibility, teamwork, critical thinking, equity, and respect are nurtured through sports activities. These values are fundamental not only in sports but also in life beyond the school environment. By actively participating in sports, students learn to abide by rules, cooperate with teammates, think strategically, and treat others with fairness and respect.

Sports can also play a vital role in addressing pressing social issues such as non-communicable diseases, depression, and drug trafficking all of which are rising in our society.

At the professional level, our athletes are at various stages of preparation for the upcoming Asian Games in China in September this year. Bhutanese football fans can also enjoy the month-long FIFA Women’s World Cup which begins tomorrow jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. At home, the Bhutan Premier League, which has gained quite a significant following on its own, begins today. However, the last season saw some rough times between players, coaches, and referees leaving a bad taste among football enthusiasts and faithful supporters. And they made it obvious on social media.

Sports tournaments world over spark controversies and bitter rivalries as players and spectators charged with emotions lose themselves in the heat of the moment. We saw that, even with the best organisers and officials, including the referees, there are flaws and oversights and problems. With the entire world watching the world’s top sportsmen, with years of experience in the international arena, can behave like immature youth. People make mistakes, on the spur of the moment, which are not revocable and are written into sports history.

What we also saw was that competition is not only about winning. A national team which conveys the wrong values on the sports field presents an unfortunate picture of its country. The behaviour of the players establishes an image of their countrymen on the world stage.

The World Cup matches over and over showed us that it is important to maintain a good sporting spirit and there is no point fighting with a referee or another player even if we are in the right. Arguing with an official might mean the end of our participation and that does not help the team.

Our performance and behaviour in tournaments, be it local or international, are equally important. That is why sports are encouraged among youth. Apart from physical talent, it is an activity that builds personality and character. Such major tournaments come after a few years but we are required to call on such values and skills every day.