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It was not a serious dispute when finalist of the Thimphu Open Basketball Championship, Zhoems, appealed to the Bhutan Basketball Federation to look into a false score that decided the finals. It was more about professionalism in the sports that is regaining its popularity, especially among the young.

The matter has finally been resolved “amicably” after about a month. The Bhutan Olympic Committee who looked into the issue conveyed the decision. The federation found that the appellant was right and that the winners should not have been winners as per the rules of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Match officials were reprimanded, match allowances were forfeited and an explanation letter was demanded. The basketball federation agreed to issue an apology to the aggrieved team, Zhoems. It seems like both the teams agreed to the decision and it is a matter of all’s well that ends well. It is a good decision. The pride of the young team was restored even if they have not lifted the trophy.

Basketball is a fast-paced game. Within seconds, the ball could travel from one end of the court to the other. A lot could change in a few seconds with matches becoming more competitive and entertaining. Mistakes too do happen.

This is however not a blame game.

What is important is that we have federations and sports governing bodies to look into disputes and grievances. Or in plain terms giving importance to sports and issues related to it. Home tournaments can encourage sports development and fair tournaments would make it more competitive.

Basketball is a popular sport among Bhutanese, especially among the young. It is one sport, after football, that Bhutanese are competing in the regional tournaments. Bhutanese, in fact, are known to be good at basketball. There are still a good number of competent players. Home competitions could provide us the perfect platform to select the best of the best.

However, together with the love of the game, we also need infrastructure. The popular indoor basketball court built in the 1970s, engineers said, is not safe.  This was found five years ago after the 2015 earthquake. At one point the federation asked basketball enthusiasts to enter the indoor court at their own risk.

Surprisingly, infrastructure development has not happened.   In a society where more than 45 percent of the people are youth, adequate sports facilities are a must.

We are quick to point out faults with our youth but not as quick to look for ways to keep youth engaged. Sport is one area that the young can spend time meaningfully.  This is encouraged in schools, at all levels. There is rhetoric extolling the virtues of sports; unfortunately, this is not backed up by actions.  We have more than a thousand bars, yet just two indoor basketball courts.  We have numerous archery ranges in the city and its periphery, but no indoor basketball courts beyond the lone old one at the swimming pool complex.

If we want the youth engaged, sport is one. For that we need infrastructure, accessible and affordable to all.

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