Football: In a move to provide better facilities for Bhutanese football enthusiasts outside Thimphu, the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) opened an artificial turf football ground in Tsirang.

The much awaited ground was inaugurated by HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck on June 18. This is the first artificial turf outside Thimphu.

During the inauguration, BFF President Ugyen Tshechup said that with the laying of the artificial turf ground in Tsirang, the federation has begun its long-term plan of laying artificial turfs in all 20 dzongkhags. Tsirang is the first recipient because of readily available space.

The BFF president said that FIFA has already committed to financially support the laying of artificial turfs in the remaining dzongkhags. The dzongkhags will first need to identify a space and submit a proposal so that BFF will be able to construct at least two grounds every year hereon.

Stressing on the importance of football in Bhutan, the BFF president said football is just a game if looked upon casually and that if left as it is today, it would not be given more importance than simply being a game.

But at the rate at which the game is becoming popular in the country among all age groups, it deserves better attention, the president said. Providing better football grounds will divert the youth from indulging in negative activities, he said.

“Football should be considered more than just a game, the young should take the game as an opportunity,” he added.

With the coming of the artificial turf in Tsirang and to reap optimum benefits, the dzongkhag should form football teams which can groom members that can play at the national level, the BFF president said.

He added that with proper concentration, Bhutan can definitely do well in South Asia, and dream about playing at the global level. “For that we need to groom our youth well and this artificial turf will help achieve that,” he said.

Football, he added, is an equally important game for Bhutanese girls who have been currently performing well at the international level. While the BFF has already been supporting the girl’s team as much as the boy’s, the president urged dzongkhags to also give equal importance to female footballers.

A day after the inauguration, the turf which measures 105 by 60 metres was already packed.

To begin with BFF is charging Nu 3,000 per match for the public and Nu 1,500 per match for students. Girl teams can play at the artificial turf for free.

The artificial turf was constructed at a cost of Nu 50 million and was funded by FIFA.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang