A total of 26 sports teachers and school sports instructors (SSI) are attending a three-day school badminton programme, Shuttle Time, at the Multi-Sports Complex in Trashigang.

The programme that began yesterday is expected to provide basic badminton skills.

The treasurer of Trashigang Sports Association, Karma Choeda, said although popular, there are not many badminton enthusiasts in the dzongkhag because of the lack of training and awareness.

He said except for a group who regularly plays the game, there are not many student players. “There are students who have potential to excel but their skills are very raw and need proper coaching and guidance.”

In December 2014, the first Shuttle Time programme saw a handful of teachers taking part in the programme. However, those teachers have left the dzongkhag today.

National coach with Bhutan Badminton Federation (BBF), Dorji, said that the programme aims to build fundamental badminton skills among students and encourage them to take up the sport.

“We expect the SSIs and sports teachers to replicate the programme at their schools and involve maximum students in the game,” he said.

Started in 2012, the Shuttle Time programme comes with the theme, “To give every child a chance to play badminton.” Since then a total of 269 SSIs and sports teachers from eight dzongkhags have undergone the programme.

By 2020, BBF expects to train about 600 SSIs and sports teachers. “If one teacher is able to impart the skills to 200 students, by 2020 we expect around 53,800 students to at least have the fundamental skills in badminton,” said the coach.

Dorji said that the level of badminton in the country has improved drastically in the last decade. “Apart from being one of the most popular sports in the country, the performance of Bhutanese badminton athletes has also enhanced,” he said. “With support from the Badminton World Federation and the Badminton Asia, our international performance is also improving every year.”

BBF annually scouts potential players from various schools and train them in Thimphu for national and international championships.

One of the participants from Benshingmo Primary School in Udzorong gewog, Sherab Dorji, said that because of the lack of facilities like indoor court at the school, many students have lost their interest in the game.

“I think with this programme, we can make badminton popular among students even in places without an indoor hall,” he said. “There are several techniques that could generate interest among the students. The focus should be on improving their skills first.”

Following the three-day programme, a four-day coaching programme for the students of Trashigang Middle Secondary School will also be conducted.

Trashigang Sports Association with support from the dzongkhag education sector is conducting the weeklong programme.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang