Thinley Namgay 

More than 300 children below 12 years of age who belong to local clubs and private academies from Thimphu and Paro are participating in the first Mini Dragon League in the capital.

Organised by the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), the league began at the Changlimithang Stadium on November 11.

Games are held on weekends.

The tournament consists of four groups: under (U)-8 boys, U-12 girls, U-10 boys and U-12 boys.

In the U-8 boys’ category, there are 10 teams, the U-12 girls have six teams, the U-10 boys have nine teams, and the U-12 boys have nine teams.

Considering their age and strength, game lengths for the Mini Dragon League are less than the usual 90-minute game length for older players.

For instance, the U-8 category plays for 30 minutes, U-10 for 40 minutes, and U-12 are given 50 minutes. Break time for U-8 is eight minutes, and other categories get 10 minutes of rest time.

The BFF’s grassroots football development official, Galey Zangpo, said the maiden event was organized  to develop football in the country by engaging young children.

He said that to make the Mini League more inclusive, the grassroots football development group would probably conduct a similar tournament in other dzongkhags next year.

On December 26, eight games were played in the U-10 and U-12 boys’ categories.

In the U-10 category, Tensung Football Academy (FA) thrashed the Young Dragons FA  7-0, and Paro FA humbled Thimphu City FA 10-0. In the same category, High Quality FA won against CG7 FA 7-0.  However, Junior FA and Brotherhood FA drew 1-1.

In the U-12 group, Junior FA beat CG7 FA 6-1, and Paro FA won against Thimphu City FA 10-0. Nevertheless, Thimphu City FA defeated Tensung FA 3-0. On the same day, Paro FA also defeated Young Dragons FA 8-1.

Six games for U-8 boys and three matches for U-12 girls will be played tomorrow.