Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) bagged the second Asian Football Confederation (AFC) award in as many years this year.

After winning an award for the inspiring member association in 2016, BFF won the AFC President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football in the aspiring category.

Of the 46 AFC associated member countries, BFF was nominated along with Macau Football Association and Palestine Football Association in the aspiring category.

The award presented at the AFC Annual Awards is given to the most outstanding performers of the AFC members. The annual award function was held in Bangkok, Thailand on November 29.

The award was given to recognise the federation for a large number of grassroots activities conducted nationwide, the federation’s effort in organising technical and promotional activities, and collaboration with government, non-government agencies, and sponsors apart from its association with the AFC member nations.

Among the efforts, it recognised the federation’s strategic development plan for the grassroots football that was developed according to the criteria of the AFC Grassroots Charter.

The charter supports member associations to implement grassroots programmes and activities to achieve its vision of making football the most popular sport on the continent by increasing participation at all levels.

BFF General Secretary Ugyen Wangchuk said the award highlights the activities and work done by the federation to improve the standard of football in the country.

“It shows that we need to collaborate more with the government, non-government agencies, and concerned stakeholders to develop the standard of football further. It would let people realise their support to improve the standard of football in the country.”

Aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing through football at amateur and non-elite levels, the grassroots department is chaired by the federation’s president. At the regional level, regional manager assisted by coaches and school sports instructors conduct the grassroots activities of the dzongkhag sports associations.

The grassroots department has conducted technical programmes like the grassroots football instructors coaching, and weekly coaching in schools across the dzongkhags to identify young talents.

To provide children a platform to exhibit their talents, the department conducts intra-dzongkhag schools festival and competitions for under-12, under-14, under-16 boys and girls annually. The department also conducts monthly grassroots festival as promotional activities to enhance mass participation and organises various coaching courses to enhance local coaching and personal development of coaches.

A comprehensive programme of social projects that used football as the medium of expression with less privileged children was conducted in Paro in 2015.

A total of Nu 6.244 million was allocated for 2017 – 2018 for the grassroots programmes. Ugyen Wangchuk said that at least 40 percent of the budget was spent on youth development activities.

“We could achieve an award in the aspiring category and our aim now is to move towards the inspiring category.”