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DAMBER SINGH GURUNG: STUDENT AND MASTER

Damber Singh Gurung, 27, has played a major part in Bhutan’s rise as a cricketing nation. National captain, youth-team coach and all-round lynchpin of Bhutan’s cricket development program, he talks to us in Chiang Mai where his U-15 team made it to the Final of the ACC U-15 Challenge Cup for the second year in a row.

What is your exact job with the Bhutan Cricket Council?
I am the Coaching Coordinator. And I am also the Assistant National Coach if and when there is a Coach coming in from a Test-playing nation.

In the Bhutan Cricket Council’s Office

How did you start with cricket?
I used to play when I was small but I never continued it because it wasn’t very popular. I was in Phuntsholing which is a seven-hour drive from Thimphu. I am actually from the southern area, Samchi, but I grew up in Phuntsholing. We have a border with India where cricket is obviously played to a large extent. In Phuntsholing people do play cricket but not on a day-to-day basis.

I was in the capital, Thimphu in 1999 during the ICC World Cup, we had access to cable television and we started watching cricket. A friend of mine, Tshering Dorji, who is the U-15 coach, and I used to play a lot of cricket and a couple of us organized a tournament in Thimphu in 2000. There were eighteen clubs who wanted to take part. There were even members of the Indian military who were in the tournament. Our club, Friends United, then decided to ask the ACC for help and they provided it.

What other sports did you play when you were young?
I played football but table tennis was my favorite and my aim was to become a national player in table tennis. But I was in Phuntsholing and I didn’t have enough time to go to Thimphu where there were a lot more facilities and coaches from Japan used to come there as well.

Damber Singh: Text-book defence

What’s the secret of being a good coach?
Mr. Baba Sourjah, our previous national coach, was introduced to us by ACC Development Officer Rumesh Ratnayake and he helped me become a coach. He supported me a lot and I am where I am mainly because of Baba.

As a coach you have to be always listening and learning. I constantly learn from people near me; also people like Rumesh and (ACC Development Officer) Roger Binny who have played internationally come with a lot of experience and I use their advice on my boys in the game.

Roger Binny on his most recent visit to Bhutan in 2007

When did you get your Level 1 and Level 2 coaching accreditation?
I did my Level 1 coaching in Thailand in 2004 and Level 2 was in Kuala Lumpur the following year.

Next Page | “I see it as a responsibility handed over to me to nurture and look after this game’s growth in Bhutan.”