The first Haa dzongkhag Indigenous Sports festival has included khuru and tug of war to promote women participation in sports.

Khuru and tug of war are two of the five indigenous sports organised in preparation for the 55th annual Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) mela (fair). Other sports in the festival include archery, degor, and kheshed.

Administrative officer with Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association (BIGSA), Tshewang Namgyal, said that no game is gender specific and that the festival should give equal opportunity to all. “There are less women participating in sports in the country. We thought it was a good opportunity to promote women participation.”

He said that women khuru tournament has become an annual competition since 2015, and that women participation in khuru during the festival would give equal opportunity for women to participate in games as well.

The inter-gewog competition started yesterday with team from Uesu gewog leading in archery against Bji gewog.  Team from Bji gewog won degor against the thromde team.

The festival, organised by BIGSA in collaboration with IMTRAT, Bhutan Olympic Committee, and Haa dzongkhag administration, aims to strengthen the bond between India and Bhutan and to involve the local communities of Haa dzongkhag.

Research and development officer with BIGSA, Tashi Dorji, said that the festival would also allow people to know about the rules and regulations of sports especially for archery, khuru and degor in which national tournaments are played.

The festival has 254 participants with six teams competing in four sports. Khuru has four teams.

Tashi Dorji said that because of the long distance between the gewog and the dzongkhag administration, it was difficult to convince gewogs such as Sangbay and Gakidling to take part in the competition. “Gakidling gewog withdrew from the festival because of this reason but a team from thromde joined the competition making a total of six teams (five gewogs and the thromde team).”

By October 5, the finals for archery, degor and khuru, and the semi-finals for kheshed and tug of war would be completed. The finals for tug of war and kheshed will be held during the IMTRAT’s 55th Raising Day on October 14.

His Majesty’s Representative and the President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee, His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck will grace the event as the chief guest.

Karma Cheki