Deki Lhazom becomes the first Bhutanese woman footballer to play in a foreign country

Thinley Namgay   

Last month, Deki Lhazom, playing for the national team, scored a goal against the oil-rich nation Saudi Arabia in a friendly game. It was just another goal for the teenager, but her performance at the game oiled her future.  

Soon after the friendly game, Deki got a message on her Instagram account. It was an offer to play for Al-Ittihad FC based in Saudi Arabia. She accepted the offer, becoming the first Bhutanese woman to play football outside the country. 

“A Saudi Arabia player texted me on Instagram. After chatting for a few days, I got an invitation from the Saudi football management through her,” Deki said, adding that she then sought the permission of the Bhutan Football Federation.  

The 18-year old struggled in a male-dominated sport, but sheer determination, passion and hard work paid off.  Deki started playing football when she was eight. Since then, football has become a part of her life. 

In her early days in Chukha, she was not aware of football opportunities for women. However, after reaching Trashiyangtse, district coach Karma Dema recognised her talent and took her to the winter selection camp in Gelephu in 2017. She did well and got selected for the women’s football academy.

After joining the women’s football academy in Gelephu in 2017, she played many international games for both junior and senior national squads.   Her first international debut was in the 2017 SAFF U-15 Championship in Bangladesh. She scored a goal against Nepal, the first of the seven international goals she scored.   

“I am excited to play for my new club. I will do my best to repay them for the opportunity they gave me,” she said.  

Deki is a die-hard fan of Argentine football star Lionel Messi. She believes that obstacles and problems in life are temporary and one should never quit while pursuing their dream.