Events: From a distance, it was just another khuru match. A group of people gathered at Babesa in Thimphu to celebrate the annual Blessed Rainy Day with a game of khuru.

However, the match is no usual affair. It is a khuru match between two teams composed of visually-impaired players.

Jigme Namgyal, 29, who is completely blind has just hit the target. Similarly, four of his friends, who are also completely blind, have hit the target several times.

Of the 18 players taking part in the tournament, five of them are completely blind. Nine of them are partially blind and four can see.

Jigme and his visually impaired friends are aided by one of the participants hitting the target with a stick. The sound helps Jigme and his friends to locate the target and to gauge its distance. Throwing the dart is no problem.

“We used to play similar matches during our stay in Muenselling Institute in Khaling,” said Jigme Namgyal. The group practised for a month before the game yesterday to familiarise themselves with the location and the distance.

Jigme Namgyal is the founder of the Blind Musical Training Institute of Bhutan (BMTIB). He became completely blind at the age of 18. “Such activities are required to let people know that we are not different from any normal person,” he said. “It also provides (differently-abled) people like us with an opportunity to help preserve our culture and tradition and make memories on such occasions.”

Assistant administration officer with the Disabled Persons Association of Bhutan (DPAB), Yonten Jamtsho, said that the tournament was organised to create awareness among people, especially parents, on the capabilities of a differently-abled child in the country, so that they can bring their children forward and include them in such activities.

Yonten Jamtsho is partially blind. Unlike his completely blind friends, he can see the target but cannot differentiate the marks on the target. He has hit two karays.

The rules of the tournament has also been customised. While the distance between the two targets remains the same as any normal competition, the target was made slightly wider.

The number of colourful scarves awarded on hitting a karay was also customised to set a level playing field. For the completely blind participants, hitting the target once earned them two scarves. For the partially-blind participants, hitting one karay earned them one scarf, and for those who could see, a scarf was awarded only after hitting two karays.

Yonten Jamtsho said that it was important to include participants who could see to guide them during the game. “We have organised this competition to inculcate feelings of equality and equity between normal and (differently-abled) persons and encourage and bring (differently-abled) people into the sporting scene in the near future.”

Yonten Jamtsho hopes to make the competition an annual event to foster positive feelings among the (differently-abled).

The one-day tournament was organised by DPAB and BMTIB.

Younten Tshedup