Bhutan displayed a spectacular thriller in the T20 Quadrangular Series 2022 in Malaysia Thursday against the Maldives. This was for us, here at home, a big sense of achievement and reason for quiet celebration.
Sports development in the country must be taken to the next level. Games and sports are not just for fun. Given the right investment in this crucially important sector, we have the potential to even influence and shape our relations with the world beyond. Soft power, if you will.
Looking back, sports development has come a long way. We are even beginning to produce young and inspiring stars, particularly in football. Archery is our national. With renewed focus and new formats such as the Bhutan Grand Prix, the first international style compound archery tournament, we hope to spot talents and groom them for international representation.
What is lacking though is an investment in the sports sector. The little funds that we get from elsewhere will never be enough to help develop sports. The government’s funds to the sector must also increase. Otherwise, we would just be organising intermittent tournaments at the dzongkhag and national level and forgetting the need to give a real oomph to the development of sporting culture in the country.
If talents must be discovered in sports, we will have to have robust sporting clubs and facilities. By extension, we must also have sports schools to train future stars. The big private businesses can invest in sports, why not. Abroad, running sports clubs and facilities is a multi-million dollar business.
Given the right policies and encouragement, such developments can take flight easily. And once such businesses take root, the flow of talents can ensure that we are able to compete at international levels.
Investment in sports, more importantly, has the potential to address one of the biggest problems facing the country today—youth unemployment. When young talents prove their worth, they will find space where they can make a respectable living out of their passion.
The time has come for Bhutan to approach sports development in a big way. It might be argued that sports is one sector that can even redefine Bhutan’s international image.