Wednesday 29 November 2023, 09:00

Secretary General praises federation’s football development work in Bhutan

  • Fatma Samoura hails the progress the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) has made

  • Secretary General says “excellent use” of FIFA Forward funding has boosted football infrastructure

  • Himalayan kingdom introduced FIFA Football for Schools programme in July

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura has praised the work of the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) for their efforts – with support from the FIFA Forward programme – in developing the beautiful game in the Himalayan kingdom. Introduced in 2016, the FIFA Forward programme provides FIFA’s 211 Member Associations with funding for tailormade football-related projects, and the BFF has used the money received to make significant improvements to the country’s football infrastructure.

In the shadow of some of the world’s most imposing mountains, a number of artificial pitches have been installed, including one at the BFF’s Girls’ Football Academy in Gelephu used by Bhutan’s elite women’s and girls’ national teams. The capital, Thimphu, has also seen a new playing surface laid, while the new BFF headquarters is currently under construction. “It is fantastic to see that you have already put Forward funds to excellent use in Bhutan. The work on the magnificent new headquarters here in Thimphu is well underway and heading towards completion in the second quarter of next year. The BFF’s new offices will provide football in your country with a solid foundation to continue building the game off the pitch,” said Ms Samoura in a speech to the BFF. “Another project to which Forward funds contributed, the BFF Academy, will safeguard the game’s future by giving the best young talents in Bhutan the opportunity to have top-class coaching and facilities, and the possibility to exploit their potential to the full.”

The Secretary General, who has been a driving force behind the development of women’s football worldwide since she was appointed in 2016, also visited the Ugyen Academy where she met with Principal Norbu Gyaltshen. Opened in late September 2023, the school has a team that competes in the Bhutan Premier League, and is coached by Denka, the only female coach in the division. While dedicated to elite development, the club also organises a number of activities for youngsters and the general public during winter.

Bhutan has steadily improved its standing in world football at international level, but the BFF are also paying close attention to strengthening the game’s grassroots in the country after introducing last July the FIFA Football for Schools (F4S) programme, which aims to teach children football and life skills. “The idea is not only to make them better footballers and better school pupils, but also – in the future – better citizens, and all of that through football,” said Ms Samoura. “I can only encourage you to continue along the same path that you have been following by developing infrastructure, building an academy, creating more and more opportunities for girls and boys, women and men to play the game we all love, whether at competitive level or just for fun with friends in their neighbourhood.”