Thinley Namgay

The Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) recognised Bhutan Tennis Federation (BTF) for the development of sports and other activities in the country.

BTF received an award from the two federations during the ATF’s annual general meeting held last month in Bangalore, India. There are 45 south Asian countries under the ATF and ITF.

BTF’s vice president, Tshewang Jurmi, said they conducted activities and tournaments like squad training, competitions between schools from different dzongkhags, coaching camps, mini tennis tournament, junior tennis tournament, an Olympic solidarity level one coaching, India-Bhutan friendship tennis tournament and Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel national open tennis tournament this year.

He said the award was also for improving tennis facilities.

Tshewang Jurmi said the award gives them more responsibilities to take tennis to an international level. “Tennis in the country is still developing and our idea is to engage youth through tennis by making it as a career for them.”

He emphasised that investing in youth is important. “Current education system does not provide skill-based education to the youth and the unemployment rate is growing in the country. Sports, in general, is one area to provide skill-based education to the youth.”

Meanwhile, in an international debut at the recently concluded 13th South Asian Games at Nepal, BTF’s men’s tennis team, Pema Norbu, Nidup Gyeltshen, Tshering Namgay and Tandin Wangchuk, won bronze medal.

BTF awarded the medalists a cash prize of Nu 20,000 each and the federation president, Palden J. Dorji, awarded them Nu 5,000 each as a token of appreciation during the recently held annual general meeting (AGM).

According to the president, receiving medals from an international competition is a great achievement. “It shows that tennis is developing in the country and all the members should support athletes.”

Meanwhile, during the AGM, five coaches, Kinley Wangchuk, Nidup Gyeltshen, Tashi Dorji, Tshering Phuntsho and Rinzin Namgyel were awarded level one coach certificate.

The level one coach certification is the rule prescribed by the ITF. “One who officially coaches should at least have level one coaching certificate.”

Level one coach Yonten and level two coach Tshering Namgay are the only two certified tennis coach until now. “Now with the increase in number of certified coaches, I am optimistic about the future of tennis,”said Tshewang Jurmi.

He claimed that although tennis was introduced in the country since 1970s, it is still not popular like other games due to various factors like the lack of facilities, exposure of players, human resources, financial shortage, lack of coaching and coaches.

Currently, BTF functions primarily as a branch of Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC). Any budget that the BTF required has to be planned and proposed to the BOC, which is fully funded by the government. Government approves the budget after verification of the required budget.

“We also collect membership fees of Nu 2,500 annually per member,” Tshewang Jurmi said. “BTF had requested other ATF members to provide scholarship for tennis athletes to meet international standard.”