Phuentshogling’s Annual Open Badminton Championship sees surge in popularity, attracts players from across borders

The Annual Open Badminton Championship in Phuentshogling is gaining popularity amongst badminton players in neighbouring Indian states and Nepal. From over just a hundred participants last year, more than 150 took part in the championship this time. There were more Indian players in the tournament than Bhutanese players. Interestingly, four Nepali players also took part in the championship this year.   

The Annual Open Badminton Championship conducted by the Bhutan Badminton Federation concluded yesterday.

Of the 152 participants, 63 were Bhutanese players, 85 Indian players came from various Indian regions and four players were from Nepal.

Officials from the federation said having such diverse participation provides Bhutanese players with the opportunity to compete with international players, offering exposure to higher levels of competition.

“The federation cannot afford to send our Bhutanese players to participate in international tournaments in huge numbers. When we organise within our country, we can provide opportunities for many Bhutanese players to play against international players. In the past, our players lost in the very first match, but this year, many Bhutanese players could reach the semifinals and some even won. So, this shows improvement in our players,” said Bikash Gurung, development manager of the Bhutan Badminton Federation.

Players from India and Nepal shared their excitement for participating in the championship.

“We have never been in Bhutan before. It is a good experience. The level of badminton is also high,” said Ragendra Maharajan, a participant from Nepal.

“One thing that I admired the most was the people here and their hospitality. That’s what I appreciate. About the tournament, it has been a really good experience. I also got to know a lot of players and made good relationships with them,” said Riku Khape, the winner of Men’s Singles from Nagaland.

Indian players dominated in most categories, winning six out of seven. The Bhutanese mixed doubles team emerged as the runners-up.

Kinley Dem, Chhukha

Edited by Sonam Pem

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