Bhutan Higher Secondary School Football Championship goes inclusive, tournament extended to girl students

The Bhutan Higher Secondary School Football Championship will now be an inclusive tournament. Starting this year, the tournament among higher secondary schools will also be extended to girls. The tournament that started in 2022 included only boys for the first two years. However, this change in approach is expected to promote gender equality and encourage more girls to engage in sports.

The 2024 edition of the tournament kicked off in districts on 18th May. 79 schools have registered this year. The competition format for both girls and boys is the same. Winners from the district level tournament will progress to the regional level. In the last phase of the tournament, eight teams will compete at the national level for the championship.

The Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development organises the tournament. As the tournament grew in popularity, girls demanded to be included.

Phuntsho Wangdi, the media and marketing director of Bhutan Football Federation said, “I think it is very important for BFF to recognise the equality of women and girls in the same field, because there is high demand. The schools were interested, principals were interested, ministry was involved and they were interested. I think from there the girls really wanted to play and there was a lot of demand from the girls. Why not include them in the high school championship because there are a lot of popularity?”

The Bhutan Football Federation also said that girls with good footballing abilities could also be selected in the national team.

The girls shared their excitement for the tournament.

“Opportunities like this is very important for us because these days it is difficult to earn a living with just education. If we have this kind of skills, I think there are better opportunities for us to earn a living,” said Tashi Yangzom a student of Drametse Higher Secondary School in Monggar.

Likewise Tandin Wangmo, a student at Peljorling Higher Secondary School in Samtse said that this kind of tournament is a good opportunity for girls to participate in footballing event . “We would be really grateful if we can have more opportunities like this,” she added.

The finals are expected to be played in autumn this year. Winners will be awarded trophies and cash prizes. The federation said that both girls and boys teams will be awarded the same prize amount.

The Bhutan Football Federation has plans to organise similar tournaments for U-13 and U-16 students to nurture grassroots initiatives and cultivate budding talents.

Pema Tshomo

Edited by Kipchu

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