Thinley Namgay   

Santa Kumar Limboo, 19, of Ugyen Academy FC in Punakha has grabbed the nation’s attention following his exceptional performances in the recently-concluded Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Bahrain.

His two goals as a striker against strong teams—Bahrain and Bangladesh—made Bhutan proud and sent a strong message to the regions that team Bhutan has some really good talents in the wings.

His skills, stamina, and confidence made a difference to the squad.

Santa Kumar Limboo, a Class-IX student, was selected for the U-20 national squad a few months back. U-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers was his first international tournament.

He said the tournament in Bahrain was organised professionally and he was glad to represent the country. The tournament, he said, taught the team to work even harder. “I know the boys and I can do a lot more.”

Santa said that other countries’ players in the recent tournament had an added advantage due to their height. He said that Bhutan could have achieved a bit more had there been enough training as a team.

The U-20 players were in different clubs and were engaged in club training and matches.

It was Santa’s father who encouraged him to play football from an early age.

“I began playing football from the day I saw my father play. He encouraged me to play and personally trained me every day,” Santa said.

According to Santa, it is not easy to be a footballer as he has to balance his studies and training. “But I never gave up.”  He said that he had to attend class after the morning training and used to fall asleep in class.

Due to his love for football, he used to sometimes bunk classes while he was in Samtse. Bhutanese international footballer, Chencho Gyeltshen, is his role model. He  wants to be like Chencho and make his parents and country proud.

He said that youth must follow their dreams seriously.  “Good things take time to come. Listen to coaches, teachers, and parents.”