A Battleground for Warriors and Football
A football match in Bhutan used to involve more of invoking spiritual forces or settling personal scores and less of physical preparation with the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu providing the perfect atmosphere; as it stands on the ground where the famous battle of Changlimithang was fought in 1885 which led to the establishment of the political supremacy of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, the First King of Bhutan. The stadium was constructed in 1974.
Under the patronage of the Bhutan Olympic Committee’s President, His Royal Highness Dasho Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, Bhutan has taken giant strides in the world of football; keeping alive the dream of one-day qualifying for the world cup.
Until then, the craze for football will continue, coming out in thousands to support the national team every time they step on the pitch.
In a country where the sports scene was dominated by archery, the national sport, and other traditional games, the game of football was first introduced in schools in the early 1950s from where it spread and gained rapid popularity as a much loved spectator sport.
Bhutan played its first international match on April 1, 1982 against Nepal and the the first National level match was organized in 1986.
Much to the delight of the fans, the tiny kingdom of Bhutan pulled off a significantly unlikely win over the visiting Sri Lankan team in the year 2015, advancing to the next round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Bhutan, ranked last in the world, defeated Sri Lank, ranked 36 places higher, by a score of 3-1.
Chencho Gyaltshen, referred to as the ‘Ronaldo of Bhutan’, scored two of the goals for Bhutan. The image below is one of the most famous sports photographs in Bhutan’s history. It is the first ever goal scored by Bhutan in World Cup match play. The photograph was taken by MyBhutan’s Vincent Roazzi Jr.
Walk into the Changlimithang Stadium — which looks more like a fortress than a sports ground — and chances are you just might catch a glimpse of the warrior, Chencho Gyaltshen (CG7). CG7 is the most celebrated player on the national team and the only one to have played for foreign clubs.
Bhutan has come a long way since and currently sits at 186 (April 4, 2019) on the FIFA standings as compared to being the lowest standing team at 209 (2015).
On June 6th, Bhutan beat Guam 1-0 in the first match of this year’s World Cup Qualifier series. The Dragon Boys then lost to Guam 5-0 in the second match of this month. With a young, promising team with four returning players from the last World Cup Qualifier, Bhutan looks to make more noise this coming year with a dream to reach the World Cup stage.