Sports in the year gone by

YEARENDER:

In the sports category, the Fire Female Bird year saw suspensions, investigations, and controversies. Young athletes made their name on the international stage and won the hearts at home.

In  2017, Karma Dorji became the country’s first gold medalist in the regional championship after he bagged the first karate gold medal from U-21 South Asian Karate Championship. U-16 national basketball team secured the first international win defeating the Maldives 63-54 at South Asia Basketball Association championship.

The Bird Year saw U-18 national football team win the first international match at the regional tournament of U-18 SAFF championship. Bhutan won the fair play trophy and was the only team to defeat the champions, Nepal.

Stakeholders came together to discuss the formulation of national sports policy that was in the plan for a long time. After missing several deadlines, the year marked the completion of renovation of the national stadium in line with international standards.

Bhutan Basketball Federation approached the year with more professionalism.

The federation formed a five-member selection committee in May to select national basketball players and conducted week-long professional coaching and certification programme to more than 19 teachers, sports teachers and coaches in Thimphu.

However, the three-month-long selection camp could pick only 14 players, a player short to form a national squad.

The year saw the seven referees criticized, repeatedly charged and disrespected by the players during weekly basketball matches. Delinquents, and Nordics qualified to feature in Pepsi A league.

National football team began AFC Asian Cup qualifier campaign in the year with 14-0 hammering from Oman in the first qualifier match in Muscat, Oman. The team suffered consecutive loss. The close results at home came as consolation. However, 10-0 humiliation from Palestine in November sealed Bhutan’s fate in the qualifier.

After affiliation with South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) for 18 years, Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) hosted the biggest youth continental tournament for Under-18 SAFF championship.  Five U-18  teams from five South Asian countries took part in the tournament.

The year saw BFF suspending Drukpol FC until 2020 for protest against a referee in the national league.

The Bird Year also saw Transport United return to grab the national league title. The club featured in AFC Cup qualifier for the fifth time.

BFF bagged the second Asian Football Confederation (AFC) award. After winning an award for the inspiring member association in 2016, BFF won the AFC President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football in the aspiring category in 2017.

The year kept the first batch of Physical Education and Sports Coaching graduates in confusion while the Department of Youth and Sports aimed at a uniform and effective implementation of health and physical education in all primary classes by 2018 organised orientation programme to the teachers and sports instructors.

Bhutan bodybuilding and weightlifting federation for the first time brought home one gold and two bronze from the ninth World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships held at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  However, the federation received numerous allegations from an athlete.

The year marked the beginning of Olympic weightlifting in the country and conducted the first ever Olympic weightlifting competition.

Bhutan Archery Federation was involved in preparing for 2020 Olympics. Federation signed South Korean Olympian as the coach to train the national archers.

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