Football: Changlimithang stadium was filled with screams yesterday morning. For a change, the field was filled with school going girls and women, who, coinciding with International Women’s Day, had come together to celebrate Women’s Football Day.

Girls, dressed in their favourite football team’s jerseys, cheered and started kicking the ball the moment they walked on to the field.

Fabio Lopez, an Italian football coach, who had come to watch the celebration, said it was a beautiful thing to see the girls play the beautiful game. “Finally women are into football, and I personally feel happy to see them enjoy the game,” he said.

An exhibition match among women participants was also held.  In colourful jerseys and smiles, the women went after the ball to give their team a winning goal.

It was a rare sight for most Bhutanese.  A resident, Kinley Phuntsho, was walking towards the vegetable market when he saw the game and walked in. “This is not a usual scene here in the country,” he said. “They play well.”

For most women players, who participated in the exhibition match yesterday, they hadn’t stepped on to a football field since their high school days. Sonam Choden Tshering, a football aficionado, said it was a good experience after so many years.

Bhutan Football Federation’s (BFF) women representative, Kinley Yangchen Lhamo, said the event was the first of its kind to be celebrated in the country, to empower women and encourage them to play football.

BFF and the United Nations organised the event with the theme “Free to Choose.”

By Younten Thsedup