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Emerging sports like cricket and baseball, grappling with the scarcity of suitable training facilities

โ€ฆ๐’†๐’๐’•๐’‰๐’–๐’”๐’Š๐’‚๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’„ ๐’‘๐’๐’‚๐’š๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’„๐’๐’‚๐’„๐’‰๐’†๐’” ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’–๐’ˆ๐’ˆ๐’๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐’‡๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’”๐’–๐’Š๐’•๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’๐’† ๐’”๐’‘๐’‚๐’„๐’†๐’” ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ, ๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’†๐’…๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’…๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’๐’๐’‘๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’๐’‡ ๐’†๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’“๐’•๐’” ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’•๐’“๐’š

Sonam Deki

The growing popularity of sports such as cricket and baseball in Bhutan is facing a significant hurdle due to lack of proper practice grounds that inhibit the development and expansion of these emerging disciplines. Enthusiastic players and passionate coaches are struggling to find suitable spaces to train and nurture their skills, posing a challenge to the growth of these sports in the country.

Bhutan, a nation known for its rich cultural heritage and love for sports, has traditionally focused on disciplines like archery and football. However, with the globalization of sports and increasing exposure to international events, cricket and baseball have gained a notable following among Bhutanese youth. Despite the rising interest, the absence of dedicated grounds for practice has become a major obstacle to the progress of these sports.

One of the primary issues faced by cricket and baseball players is the lack of specialized facilities tailored to their needs. These sports require specific dimensions and features for playing fields, such as well-maintained pitches and infields. However, the existing grounds in Bhutan often do not meet the necessary requirements, leaving players without appropriate spaces to practice and hone their skills.

The unavailability of proper infrastructure extends beyond the playing fields. Cricket and baseball also demand specialized equipment, including nets, batting cages, and safety gears, which are often lacking or insufficient in Bhutan. The absence of these essential resources significantly hampers the ability of players to train effectively and impedes their progress in the sports.

The head captain of the national cricket team emphasized the significant hurdles faced by cricket, particularly in Bhutan, due to the country’s mountainous terrain, primarily concerning the establishment of a suitable cricket ground. Suprit Pradhan, Captain said, “Thankfully, Bhutan cricket has managed to create a proper cricket ground in Gelephu. However, considering the population in Thimphu, it is crucial to ensure the availability of adequate facilities in this region as well. It is encouraging to hear about the development of indoor facilities for cricket in Thimphu, as this is likely to inspire numerous young individuals to engage in the sport, especially within the Thimphu area.”

“In addition to the lack of facilities, another challenge lies in garnering support from various stakeholders. It is important not to solely rely on cricket organizations and the Bhutan Olympic Committee for assistance. Private enterprises and corporations should actively encourage their employees to participate in sports and provide support. Drawing inspiration from other countries that exhibit a vibrant sports culture and promote sports participation among students can serve as a valuable example” he added.

He further added, “If sports in Bhutan is approached with dedication and seriousness, it has the potential to place the country on the global sports map. Furthermore, sports can contribute to combating one of Bhutan’s most pressing issues like substance abuse, particularly involving drugs and alcohol, especially among the youth. By channeling resources and providing opportunities to the youth, we can effectively address this problem. This endeavor should begin at the grassroots level and be integrated into the system itself. With a concerted effort, positive changes can be expected in the days to come.”

Similarly, Tshering, the head of the women’s department at Bhutan Baseball and Softball Association, expressed, “Despite more youths engaging in new sports, we continue to encounter significant challenges, especially in terms of our own playing field. We are currently grateful to the Motithang Higher Secondary School principal for generously allowing us to utilize the school ground facilities. We also extend our gratitude to the schools participating in our grassroots program. Another major hurdle we face is acquiring equipment, which proves to be difficult in neighboring countries. However, thanks to the JICA Bhutan program and the generous donations from certain US-based NGOs, we have been receiving baseball and softball equipment annually. Nonetheless, due to the increasing number of youth participants, we still struggle with equipment shortages.”

She added, “Till now for the past two years we have been raising funds through international donations from NGOs and through domestic marketing programs for leagues, camps and tournaments. However as we became the affiliated members of Bhutan Olympic Committee, we will be given the rights to propose grants through them.”

Namgay Wangchuk, Sport research development head of Bhutan Olympic committee (BOC) said, “With regards to challenges faced in terms of not having proper ground, the BOC is doing its best and till date, provided financial and technical support in the construction of parking, pavilion at the National Cricket Centre at Gelephu. Further, we have also facilitated development of cricket ground at Chang Rama shooting range. The work at Gelephu is completed and work at Rama is in progress”.

He added, “With regards to baseball, we have upgraded them to full-fledged association only in the last BOC General Assembly in June 2023. We will provide all necessary support to develop and promote their sports.”
The emergence of cricket and baseball in Bhutan has been marred by the lack of proper practice grounds. The absence of specialized facilities and infrastructure hinder the progress of these sports. However, with the commitment of sports associations and the government, combined with collaborative efforts from stakeholders, there is hope that dedicated grounds and comprehensive development programs will be established, paving the way for the growth and success of cricket and baseball in Bhutan.

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