Thinley Namgay  

One of the critical challenges in the development of sports in the country has been the lack of quality infrastructure. The Bhutan Olympic Committee’s (BOC) in its mandate to fill this critical gap has collected proposals from the federations, associations,  and dzongkhags to draft the committee’s activities for the 13th Plan.

The executive committee chaired by BOC’s President His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck deliberated the draft proposal for the 13th Plan yesterday.

The draft 13th Plan proposal has a budget outlay of Nu 3.204 billion (B).  Of that, Nu 2.064B is for building infrastructure.

Considering the population, more facilities are proposed for Thimphu such as a multi-sports stadium, taekwondo hall, indoor archery range, athletic track, basketball arena, cricket, and shooting stadium, and national sports science centre, among others.

A swimming pool is proposed each in Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar. Mongar, Wangdue, Gasa, and Haa are expected to have a multi-sports halls each, and a sports complex is proposed for Trongsa.

Astroturf football grounds proposed in Gelephu, Haa, Lhuentse, Pemagatshel, Samtse, Wangdue, Gasa, and Zhemgang.  Additional sports facilities will be provided to Bumthang.

The EC members recommended the BOC relook into its plans to develop sports avenues in small communities. A member said that it would be good if the committee could focus on places with a talent pool to ensure good returns from the sports investments.

BOC’s Secretary General, Sonam Karma Tshering said that BOC’s mandate was twofold unlike sport apex bodies in other countries. “BOC has to give importance to both sports excellence and making sports accessible to everyone.”

He said sports facilities are important for all dzongkhags to promote healthy lifestyles.

His Royal Highness said that it was essential for the sports fraternity to embrace good governance, and institute systems to enhance communication and accountability.

The EC directed the BOC’s infrastructure division to conduct an intensive analysis to ensure quality. The division was also instructed to explore the possibility of outsourcing project management responsibilities to private consulting firms.

BOC’s engineer Kinley Tshering said that there are various challenges for the infrastructure division owing to the magnitude of the projects, shortage of human resources, and lack of ownership in the projects.

Moreover, he said that sports federations and associations don’t do proper research before proposing facilities and also don’t have the required competency to sustain and operate the infrastructure.