Bhutanese athletes have brought home more than 180 medals from the international and regional competitions. Sports and competence level have witness commendable growth over the years.

Yet, the country does not have a national sports policy.

At the first multi-sectoral meeting held in preparation for the national sports policy in Thimphu on November 14, president of Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association, former Lyonpo Dr. Kinzang Dorji said that developing national sports policy was in the plan for a long time.

“We have an independent consultant preparing the policy. There is no chance of compromising goals and there will be no clashes among the sectors. It should not be biased and influenced by any stakeholder and organisation. It should be beyond what we have now,” he said.

Among others, developing high-performance sport (elites sports) or the sporting events that contribute to knowledge development and health promotions (mass sports) was discussed.

Senior Lecturer of Paro College of Education, Lungten Wangdi, said that there is need to conceptualise the theoretical approach of the policy. “The sports policy should address the needs of all the people and the approach towards professional sports should be realistic. Development of sports into mass participation is happening through value education and physical sports programmes at schools. In the end, is the specialisation of sports that need more studies. To get participants of the international standard, we need to go for talent hunt.”

Dawa Gyaltshen (Ph.D.) of Health and Physical Education, said that the approach of the policy will be determined by the objectives and goals. “It’s not a right time to focus on mass sports or elites sports. These are the focus of the policy and they are interconnected. The policy should have clear goals and objectives.”

Education Minister Norbu Wangchuk said that it would be a difficult choice. “It’s between raising a few professionals and the entire well-being of society and promotions of health. We need every member of the society to be healthy and happy through sporting activities. At the same time, we need people to win medals from the international competition.”

The minister added that the focus should be on both. The policy should be inclusive and the implementation would be conditional to recourses available and the aspiration of the people.

Thimphu Thrompon Kinley Dorji said that the capital had reached a situation where it needed enough recreation facilities with increasing youth problems. While developing the policy, to promote and encourage sporting events from the grassroots, there is a need to consider the situation in other thromdes and gewogs.

“We have 34 schools and many schools have playing field, but it was limited to the use of the public. They remain close after school. The policy should explore ideas to use these available playing space,” Thrompon said.

According to the concept note proposed by Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) for the preparation of sports policy, around 80 percent of sporting facilities available in the country are owned by schools and institutions, are poorly maintained and are not accessible to local communities.

It also stated that the committee and most of the federations do not have proper governance and administrative systems and funds, which hampered the development of sports in the country.

Most of the federations do not have territorial representation, which is mandatory according to the norms of Olympic Charter.

The policy would look into possible ways of collaboration between private sector and the government to build sports infrastructure in thromde areas.

BOC submitted a proposal to the government for the development of national sports policy. Government directed the ministry of education to develop the policy, which would be finalised by June next year.