Thinley Namgay 

Come 2021, higher secondary schools in the country will compete in a professional football tournament organised by Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) to uplift the standards of the sport.

Bhutan Higher Secondary School Championship (BHSSC) will be an annual event in line with BFF’s grassroots football development agenda.

The Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) has been organising annual sports meet for the schools. The new tournament is expected to be more competitive and inclusive.

BFF officials said that this championship will curb down the growing concerns of regional imbalance in terms of representation at the national level. It would also allow the federation and the clubs to pick good players.

Players could also avail scholarship opportunities.

BFF’s Media and Marketing Officer Phuntsho Wangdi said that the federation would bear all the expenses. “We will provide coaches and equipment for schools if they need them.”

The winning team will compete in the South Asian Football Federation’s (SAFF) School Championship next year in Bhutan.

“The SAFF member countries and the Asian Football Federation supported Bhutan’s plan to host the SAFF School Championship,” said Phuntsho Wangdi.

BHSSC is for both men and women among 82 higher secondary schools. Of the 82 schools, 12 are from Thimphu.

BFF will organise this tournament in three stages. In the first phase, the teams will compete at the dzongkhag level between Match and June.  It will be a home and away league match at 29 venues.

In the second phase, 22 teams from the dzongkhags will play a single league format in the Regional Higher Secondary Championship in July.

Seven teams selected from regional tournaments will play in the National Higher Secondary Championship at a centralised venue in December. It will be both league and knockout tournament.

Currently, officials from the BFF are travelling to the dzongkhags sensitising on the BHSSC for the Dzongkhag Education Officers, principals and relevant stakeholders.