Thinley Namgay

Three years after the introduction of the Bhutan HSS Football Championship (BHSSFC) for boys, the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) and the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) have recently started BHSSFC for girls.

Seventy-nine girls’ teams are competing at the district level at present. The same number of schools are also contesting in the BHSSFC for boys.

The inception of BHSSFC for girls is applauded by many as a testament to equal opportunity for both genders in football.

Royal Academy coach Tshering Pelden said, “The introduction of the HSS championship for girls marks a significant step forward for football development in our country.”

She said the competition would develop skills, provide game exposure, and encourage more girls to pursue their passion for football, thereby enhancing the talent pool in the country.

She said that support for girls in sports was limited from schools, parents, and the community. “Due to lack of support and encouragement, confidence levels in girls are very low. They are hesitant to show the talent that they have.”

One of the girl students said that besides promoting football, the tournament would also create job opportunities for women in football as players, coaches, and officials. “I am glad to be a part of this tournament despite disrupting studies.”

BFF’s BHSSFC focal person Ugyen Dorji said the match criteria were the same for both genders.

He mentioned that the top 20 teams in both categories  from the district will play in the regional championship, followed by eight teams in the national championship.

He added that school sports instructors from 81 HSSs are coordinating the competition at the district level, which will be completed in August.

Each school has to play in a home and away format at the district level.

High school students in classes XI and XII are eligible to participate. However, schools with classes VII and above may also include students from classes VII to X.

Fifteen matches were played as of yesterday in both categories.