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For the love of football

By Tashi Dendup

He dreamt of becoming a footballer even as a kid and, despite all the odds staked against him, he continued to pursue his dream that would eventually become his ultimate goal in life.

Meet Tenzin Dorji, 24, a Bhutanese international footballer who plays as a central defender for the National football team and currently plays for Druk Lhayul FC, a team currently competing in the Bhutan Premier League.

Even as a 10-year-old kid he developed an intense affiliation with football when he was in primary school. His interest in football was inspired and motivated by the world-famous Spanish former professional footballer Fernando Torres who rose to fame as a prolific striker.

And, nothing would stop this kid from pursuing the passion of his life.

Tenzin spent most of his time playing football with his friends in their neighborhood parking and then slowly began to play in school tournaments where he was selected to represent his school in under-12 tournaments. However, his father didn’t let him play in the tournament as he was too small, and the thought that might get himself injured dissuaded his parents from supporting him.

Till the age of 16, his parents were not very supportive of his desire and interest to play football as they didn’t see any merit in this sport at that time and wanted him to focus on studying rather than playing football.

Despite the challenges, his love for the game only grew. He often lied to his parents and sneak out of his house to engage himself in a sport that he cherished the most. Tenzin would quietly sneak in the early morning when his parents were sleeping and would spend the whole day playing football tournaments with his friends betting on small amounts of Nu.10 or 20.

At that time, his parents were not supportive as well as were not well off so he could not ask them to buy him football boots so what he did was, saved the little money he got while playing tournaments with his friends on weekends and used it to buy football boots and jerseys.

However, time had better surprises in wait for him. When Tenzin reached the age of 16 he was able to join the National Football Academy at Changjiji which was a turning point in his life. His parents also started to give him their support and blessings.

Today, Tenzin proudly says that the support and love from his parents inspired and motivated him to work hard and achieve his ultimate dream – becoming a professional player.

He currently plays as a central defender for the country as well as for his club but he can play all the positions. When he started playing football, he started as a striker then he played as a midfielder. After that, he played as the right-winger and he also played like the goalie and then he eventually settled into his current position as the central defender.

His goals and aspirations from here on are to play for professional teams in other countries and carve a name for himself in the world of football, and also to proudly represent the country in international tournaments so that he can give his best.

As of now, rather than aspiring to make income as a footballer, he is looking to make his name known in the country as well as to the world, and to do that he has been working very hard to improve himself in training and also during his off time.

“Everybody knows how to play football but to be a footballer solely focused on the game is very difficult and rare,” Tenzin says.

He believes that as a footballer discipline, time and diet are the most essential assets that one could have on top of skills.

“The journey is very hard and tedious and will probably take me a lot of time to fulfill my goals and aspirations, but I won’t be giving up. I will work hard and achieve what I intend to do in life.”

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