… the open tournament saw the largest crowd since 2018 

Rajesh Rai | Samtse

Close to eight thousand people gathered at the Samtse Sports Association (SSA) football turf to watch the final match of the open football tournament in Samtse yesterday.

The SSA ground came to life as the crowd endured the rain.

Many said they haven’t seen such a crowd in Samtse since the 111th National Day celebrations in 2018.

Samtse Bazaar FC won the tournament 3-0 against Kuchi Daina FC, a team that comprised players mostly of adivasi community from Yoeseltse gewog.

Although the Samtse Bazaar FC team won the tournament, adivasi team were the crowd’s favourite. However, their stamina didn’t do much against Bazaar FC’s skills.

Samtse Bazaar FC slotted two goals before halftime including one from the spot kick.

SSA general secretary, Chaturman Gurung said this will be an annual event.

“Even lhops had a team. Our aim was to bring all the communities together through football,” he said.

He said the local businesses such as restaurants and sports shops also benefited. The tournament also kept the people in Samtse engaged, he added.

“And the crowd was simply amazing,” he said.

A spectator said that there was nothing much happening in Samtse to bring together such a huge crowd.

“Football is one sport, which brings people from all over the dzongkhag,” he said, adding that people from as far as Tashichholing gewog had come to watch the match.

“It’s good to see such a crowd after two years,” he said.

Each of the 26 participating teams paid an entry fee of Nu 20,000. Every gewog had a team playing in the tournament.

The winning team took home a cash award of Nu 100,000, while the runners-up took Nu 50,000. Lhop FC was awarded the fair play team of the tournament.

The tournament began on July 10.