Tshering Namgyal | Gyalpozhing

Football enthusiasts in Mongar complain about the lack of professionals to manage artificial turf in Gyalpozhing, Mongar.

Footballers said there is no professional referee in place and those arranged by the caretaker of the turf were not trained.

“Referees cannot solve confusions, often leading to quarrels among players,” a footballer, Thinley, said. “Bhutan Olympic Committee should employ a certified referee. This will create employment for youth.”

He claimed footballers have to pay separate referee fees for an unprofessional on top of the high ground fee.

People come from Mongar, Gyalpoizhing, Lingmethang town areas and from gewogs to play the game.

They said there is a need for dedicated professionals to manage the ground, which is built with high expenses to sustain.

Residents said the ground is also not clean. The ground also remained without flashlight for more than six months.

They also said the ground fee is also quite high and not affordable.

A footballer, Tenzin, said games and sports are for physical fitness, but many cannot afford. “I think it’s high time the ground fee be restructured for common people’s benefit and motivate more participation.”

Many said there is a lack of transparency and accountability while collecting the fees.

“We don’t know how much the caretaker deposits in the government account. All money should be deposited into the government account and he should be paid salary,” a footballer said.

The caretaker, Dorji Singye, said the fees are deposited in the account of Mongar Sports Association (MSA).

He said finding a trained referee in the locality is difficult and he hires students, who knew football rules. “Some players have attitude problems.”

He said players only pay Nu 300 as referee fee.

According to the caretaker, there is no proper toilet for players and BOC arranged a temporary shed with green net for urinating. “Some even prefer to urinate and smoke around the BOC hall despite informing them and this even this has become an issue.’’

The ground fee at night is Nu 2,700 and Nu 2,500 a match excluding Nu 300 referee fee.

The first-ever national level soccer tournament ‘President’s Cup’ was held in Gyalpoizhing. During the tournament, some professional footballers shared that the condition of the ground is badly damaged and needed maintenance.

It was learnt that the ground couldn’t be maintained after the machine used for maintenance of artificial turf and dust picking called ‘Turf Boy’ broke down three years ago and couldn’t be replaced as it’s to come all the way from Germany.

The lighting has been restored after buying filaments from abroad just before the lockdown relaxation.

Officials from Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) said there are more than 200 referees trained in the east, who are capable of holding match officials, and finding professional referees shouldn’t be an issue.

An official said BFF is also ready to provide need-based training like referee or ground maintenance should the local management committee like MSA write to the federation officially.

MSA officials could not be contacted.

BOC constructed and handed over the 17-million astroturf to Mongar DSA in 2017.

Meanwhile, as soccer in the region picking up, at least three futsal turf-two in Mongar and one in Lingmethang have come up over the past two years.