BAAF: To promote grassroots level athletics programmes in primary schools, Bhutan Amateur Athletics Federation (BAAF) distributed kids athletic kits to 14 Dzongkhag Sports Associations (DSA) yesterday.

The initiative is in line with the federation’s strategic plan to promote and develop kids athletics programme in primary schools throughout the country. The programme also focuses on coaches’ education and training along with the identification of talents and grooming of athletes.

Bought at a cost of around USD 7,227 the kit contains athletic equipment such as hurdles, javelins, shot put and discus made up of soft materials ideal for kids. The kits are donated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to train and prepare students aged seven to 12 in the primary schools.

Six dzongkhags received similar kits in 2013 while the remaining 14 dzongkhags were given the kits yesterday. BAAF’s president Tsewang Rinzing said the federation is hoping to see better quality athletes in the near future.

“What we have been doing so far is selecting random athletes during the times of tournaments and make them train for a few months and expect them to win medals,” said Tsewang Rinzing. “This is not possible as the athletes do not have adequate field experience and are not properly groomed.”

BAAF’s general secretary, Dorji Tenzin, said that because of the lack of a structured athletics programme in primary schools, the country hasn’t produced any potential athletes so far. “There is no sports designed for this particular age group (seven to 12) which is very crucial for us in the development of their motor skills,” he said. “We have talented individuals but they are not well groomed and they lack experience.”

Dorji Tenzin said that to build a better foundation for the athletes in the country a strategic plan was launched under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck in 2013. Under the plan, every primary school in the country was to start with the kid’s athletics programme.

“The results we have received from the six DSAs is promising and we are hopeful that the remaining 14 DSAs will also make the best use of the kits,” said Dorji Tenzin.

He announced that a teen-athletics programme will also be launched next year where children aged 13 to 15 will be trained. “If the two programme runs successfully and reach every school in the country, we’ll have promising athletes in the country in the next 10 years,” said Dorji Tenzin.

Officials said that similar programmes will also be introduced to children in Laya and Lingzhi and Merak Sekteng before June this year.

Younten Tshedup