Table tennis: Sunday 11am, Sumit Subba of Pelkhil School and Leki Dorji from Motithang higher secondary school (MHSS) are engaged in an intense table tennis match at the national table tennis hall in Thimphu.

The two players are competing in the finals of the Thimphu Thromde table tennis championship. In the best of seven games series, 19-year-old Sumit Subba triumphs over his younger opponent Leki Dorji 4-1.

However, the atmosphere at the hall doesn’t seem to be that of a tournament. Apart from a few officials from the federation and the players themselves, there is nothing else giving out a “feel of a real tournament” according to most of the players.

The winner in the girl’s category, Sonam Deki from MHSS said that there is no ‘charm’ even after winning the competition. “I wanted to take the medal to the school and show it to my friends but this is not happening. It is a very sad thing,” she said. “Not that medals are important but when we win something, there has to be something to recognise our efforts and talents. It didn’t feel like a tournament for me personally.”

A total of 15 schools from Thimphu Thromde took part in the three-day championship. However, the finals yesterday saw only representatives from two schools at the competition.

One of the spectators, who didn’t want to be named, said that there were no representatives from schools supporting the students. “We need support from adults and teachers if they want to see their students do better,” he said. “There are no representatives from the organisers themselves. Such practises in the long run might discourage the young talented students from taking up games and sports in the country.”

The Thromde’s education officer, Namgyel Dorji, said that because of the delay in the shipment of certificates and medals from their supply agent, they were not able to award the prizes on time.

“We regret for not being able to award the winners on time. However, this year the Thimphu Thromde sports events have been extended until the end of September,” said Namgyel Dorji. “We’ll be giving away the certificates to the winners of the table tennis competition along with the winners of the basketball competitions that begins today.”

The national coach of the  table tennis federation, Fumika Miura, said that Bhutanese have potential when it comes to playing table tennis. However, it needs nurturing and support from the schools and the community as a whole.

“The standard of the game is improving and the students share excitement to participate in such events”. said Fumika Miura. “Such excitments should be promoted.  The federation has been supporting the promotion of the game. Now we need the support of other stakeholders concerns.”

 Younten Tshedup