Kuensel reporter YK Poudel in conversation with Xumsel Finso Chhodon (Xumsi), 25, captain of the Women’s Basketball National Team.
I am from Thimphu. I studied in Early Learning Center until the 6th grade. Then I went to Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India until the 9th grade. After Woodstock, I went to Linden Hall School in Pennsylvania, USA where I completed high school.
I completed my undergraduate studies at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York in 2021.
Currently, I am the captain of the Women’s Basketball National Team. I play in Majas team.
When did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball when I joined Woodstock School in the 7th grade.
While in Woodstock, I played for the Junior Varsity team for two years and played for the Varsity team for a year. Then, I continued to play on the Varsity team in Linden Hall until the 12th grade.
It has now been around 11 years since I started playing basketball.
For how long have you been the captain of Bhutan’s Basketball
This is my first time.
Did you undergo any training outside Bhutan? What difference do you find in terms of training tactics?
I played for my middle school and high school teams in India and in the US, so that is the only kind of training I got.
In terms of the difference in training, I think it really depends on what the coaches decide to focus on. For our national team this year, our main focus was speed and stamina.
The training and coaching I underwent while playing on the school teams in India and the US focused less on stamina and speed, and more on gameplay and strategies.
What is your thought on taking up basketball as a career?
I’m not taking basketball up as a career; it is more of a hobby to me. I enjoy playing the game, especially when it’s with people I enjoy being around.
As a national team captain and player, what is your goal?
The most important point to remember when playing for the national team is that we are representing our country. This was something the coaches and I constantly repeated while in the Maldives for our tournament. Other than that, our only goal was to work hard, try our best, and leave the game with no regrets.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced so far?
One of the greatest challenges was going to a tournament and facing teams with so much experience and exposure, something that we as a team were lacking.
For most of us, this was our first international tournament and it was intimidating to play against girls that were not only physically taller and bigger but also at a very different skill level.
How many international matches have you played? Can you describe your greatest achievement in your career?
This was my first international tournament. I did play for the national team in 2019 when the Afghanistan Women’s team visited for a friendly match.
My greatest achievement so far is getting appointed as the captain of the national team. It was an honour.
How do you cope with stress as a captain?
When I’m stressed, I prefer to be by myself and focus on calming myself down and I do that by listening to music and just taking deep breaths. Before games, I have a specific playlist that I listen to which not only calms my nerves but also gets my mind ready for the game. I also usually try to visualise the game over and over in my head.
Maintaining positivity within the team and ensuring that everyone around is remaining a positive attitude before, during, and after the game is also important and we try to do that by supporting and encouraging each other.
Your views on the future of basketball in Bhutan?
I think there’s a long way to go for women in basketball.
There is a lot we need to work on. It is tough.
It is evident when we play tournaments – we only have about five women’s clubs whereas the men have more than 30. And the men have two league tournaments.
Considering these two tournaments in total take up almost half a year, I think it is unfair on the girls and women to get pushed aside. I hope that more action is taken to not only promote women’s basketball but to also have equal inclusion so that in the future, not only will we have more girls’ clubs joining tournaments, but the selection pool to pick the national team will also be larger and more varied.
I think that this type of inclusive competition will take us to higher levels.