After Olympic archery, the national women’s cricket team tops the list of representing the country in international tournaments.

The cricket team participates in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Women’s T20 Open Tournament 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand in March this year.

According to an official at Bhutan Cricket Council Board (BCCB), the team will play its 12th international tournament next month.

The team first participated in an international competition at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Women’s T20 championship in Malaysia in 2009.

The women’s cricket team featured in ACC T20 championship, bilateral tournaments, and ACC women’s tournament.

On January 31, BCCB selected 14 women squad, comprising of 10 experienced players and four new players to take part in the ASEAN Women’s T20 Open Tournament 2018 that will be held from March 5 to 14 in Thailand.

More than 30 players were selected from district cricket championship held in Gelephu followed by a trial at Pelkhil oval in Thimphu.

One of the selected is Nima Lhamo from Mongar. The left-handed batter has been playing the sport for the last eight years.

She said the trial was competitive as it included the best players from the district championship. “I worked hard and believed in self. The trial had more bowlers and it favored me in the trial.”

She said the sport has more opportunities in future and the squad has a maximum number of experienced players. “We will try hard to perform like the experienced players.”

Coach Sonam Tobgay said that the women’s cricket team has a higher chance to reach the cricket world cup qualifiers. “Level of sport for women at the regional level is equal. We see better opportunities for the women to perform better in the international competitions.”

The current national squad comprise of students and those who completed class 12. However, BCCB has no regular players to represent the country in the international competition to date. The team takes part in tournaments with support from ICC and Bhutan Olympic Committee.

Sonam Tobgay said the sport is not popular in the country but the number of women taking up the sport has increased over the years. Today there are around 5,000 women participants across the country. Five dzongkhags of Gelephu, Wangduephodrang, Punakha, Thimphu, and Paro have a coach each.

Today, BCCB conducts around three major tournaments for women in the country. It includes school cricket tournaments, district cricket championship and club championships. Five clubs took part in the club championship last year.

National women’s cricket team captain, Dechen Wangmo, said the sport would give women a better future. “There are more opportunities and infrastructure improves every year. The sport is not a man’s game anymore,” she said. “Taking up any sport helps women become confident and empowered.”

In the upcoming ASEAN women open tournament, six countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Hongkong, Thailand, Tanzania, and Bhutan are participating.

Bhutan will play Tanzania for the first time.