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Bhutanese Sports Grapple with Lack of Home Competitors; Athletes Seek Training Abroad

โ€ฆ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‚ ๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’… ๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’‰๐’†๐’Š๐’“ ๐’”๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’๐’”, ๐‘ฉ๐’‰๐’–๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’†๐’”๐’† ๐’‚๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’†๐’•๐’†๐’” ๐’—๐’†๐’๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’† ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’†๐’‚๐’” ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’‘๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’„๐’†

Sonam Deki

Several sports in Bhutan are facing challenges due to the absence of local competitors, making it difficult for athletes to enhance their skills and techniques. Consequently, determined sportsmen and women are embarking on international journeys to receive specialized training abroad.

The picturesque Himalayan nation, renowned for its rich culture and stunning landscapes, has been making significant strides in various sports over the years. Nevertheless, the lack of local opponents has hindered the growth and development of certain sports.

In preparation for the upcoming 19th Asian Games, specific sports teams are currently undergoing training abroad. The taekwondo team is training at Kyung-Il University in Seoul, the badminton team is honing their skills at the Poonsana Badminton Academy in Bangkok, Thailand, and both the swimming and athletics teams are receiving training in various other countries.

Sports such as archery, shooting, and boxing have recently come under the spotlight, as athletes seek opportunities abroad to elevate their performance levels. Without regular sparring and competitive matches, these athletes face difficulties in refining their techniques and strategies.

Coaches from different sports have expressed concerns about the limited avenues for skill improvement within the country. They acknowledge the need for exposure to diverse playing styles and strategies to foster a competitive edge.
One of the boxers emphasized the importance of facing different opponents to enhance precision and skills. “In Bhutan, we have a strong liking for boxing, but to truly excel, we need to experience different techniques. Training abroad has been transformative for me,” he said.

Similarly, another athlete highlighted the significance of facing diverse opponents to improve combat skills. “Competing against athletes from other countries exposes me to new tactics and strategies. This exposure is invaluable for my growth as an athlete,” she emphasized.

The archery coach explained, “Several factors contribute to this issue, including a lack of infrastructure, limited coaching expertise, insufficient financial support, restricted competition opportunities, lack of recognition and incentives, inadequate health and injury support, absence of role models, and emigration for better opportunities. In my opinion, these factors collectively hinder us from retaining talented athletes, resulting in fewer competitors who lack rivals.”

Likewise, a coach from a different sport mentioned, “Our players are already at the top level here in the country due to the absence of challenging competitors at home. However, when they compete abroad, they encounter formidable opponents. This exposure to strong competitors allows them to improve their skills and techniques through valuable experiential learning.”

Addressing the situation, Sonam Tshewang, CDM of Bhutan Olympic Committee, pointed out that due to limited infrastructure and facilities, providing comprehensive training for a variety of sports within Bhutan presents difficulties.

He stated, “Nonetheless, a small number of sports have been fortunate to receive backing from foreign nations, granting them the chance to partake in training overseas. The remaining sports currently trained domestically are actively pursuing similar kinds of assistance. This aid would not only facilitate their training under the guidance of experienced professionals but also expose them to invaluable opportunities. This exposure would enable them to enhance their skills through interactions and practice sessions with accomplished athletes from other countries.”

While the road ahead may be challenging, Bhutan’s determined athletes are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for excellence. With their sights set on international podiums, these sportsmen and women are demonstrating remarkable resilience and dedication as they pursue their dreams, both at home and abroad.

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