An Italian is the first outsider to train a Thimphu “A” division side

Football: Thimphu FC is taking the Thimphu “A” division football league, which is just around the corner, seriously.

The club has a new owner and hired a former Italian football league coach, Fabio Lopez, the first international coach to train a Bhutanese club.

The 42-year old Italian had coached football clubs in the Maldives, Indonesia, Malaysia and Lithuania.

Coach Fabio Lopez said that the team had a lot to learn about football, both physically and mentally.

“Sport is a discipline. If you want to win, you need to change your mentality first,” he said. “To succeed, we must believe in what we do.”

He said Bhutan could not be compared with other countries in terms of professionalism in football given its small size, population and also the budget that goes into the sport.

“However, the players have the potential to grow and perform much better in the long run,” he said.

A midfielder of the team, Thinley Dorji, said that, every day is a new learning experience for the team under the new coach since the training began two days ago.

“We’re very excited to have a coach of his calibre training us. We’ll only become better under his guidance,” he said.

Coach Lopez said, “I enjoyed the training session with the boys.  With regular practice, they should do fine during the tournament.”

The club owner, Yiwang Pindarica, said they hired an international coach to improve the quality of football in the country. “We want to be the first professional team in the country,” she said. “This is a small step towards that goal.”

Thimphu FC, promoted from league ‘B’ last year, will take on Thimphu City in the opening match of the league on April 4.

By Younten Tshedup