The Bhutan Cricket Council Board has taken cricket to the south of the country, on the border with India’s Assam, as part of a program to encourage a whole new slew of schools to take up cricket. The tour was made with the full co-operation of the Youth and Sports Division of the Ministry of Education.

“The program is mainly to prepare these districts for the upcoming school tournaments which will commence from April and to set up a base where local trained coaches will be recruited later on to look after development,” says Damber Singh Guring, Bhutan’s national captain and youth coach.

Damber Singh Gurung leading by example

Of the 13 government, and two private, schools in Sarpang a number have already pledged their support to the BCCB and allocated grounds for renovation and modification for cricket’s purposes. 1200 children will now have access to cricket facilities. A Level 0 course for 30 of the district’s school-teachers is to be held at the start of March. A similar program will be conducted in Paro district in the west of Bhutan at the end of March.

On the next visit to Sarpang by Damber Singh Gurung, workshops and training programmes will be held. “The major encouraging factor was that cricket already existed in the district and the people had some idea of how it is played. We found out that some of the schools were an ideal place as there were lots of facilities mainly concerning grounds,” adds Mr. Gurung.

A Level 0 Theory class in progress

Cricket is being made available to both boys and girls, men and women teachers. Mr. Gurung says, “The schools were desperate for sports to be introduced as they wanted their students to be involved in it. The General Secretary of the local Sports Association also was keen and very much pleased with the Cricket Board because he thinks that cricket is the only sport that is going places and he believes that cricket has the potential to become a major sport in Bhutan. We believe that Sarpang is an ideal place to develop cricket because major number of the schools have grounds of their own, which will help in developing the school cricket base as the schools can hold inter-class tournament easily.”

All photographs courtesy of Bhutan Cricket Council Board, www.bhutancricket.org

With the monsoon season underway and the roads unable to be navigated with any available vehicles, five of the schools could only be reached by the coaches walking to them each day, two hours there and two hours back. However, being in the south of the country with a more temperate climate than the rest of Bhutan, Sarpang district and its largest town Gelephu is seen as the ideal place to eventually situate the country’s first full-sized cricket ground.

Filed March 13 2007