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The first Bhutanese pro footballer2011
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Football in Bhutan

The first Bhutanese pro footballer

As striker for a Meghalayan league topping team, he earns Nu 1M a year Profile Many Bhutanese, who are into football, dream of playing in major football leagues, both for the love of the game, and the huge salary package that comes with it. It will be long before a Bhutanese plays in these leagues, but one has made a start.

Having dreamt of becoming a professional footballer, Chencho is now living his dream, doing what he likes best - playing football, thus breaking the Bhutanese jinx by becoming the first-ever full-time player.

Standing 5 foot 11 tall, he plays for the Royal Wahingdoh football club (RWFC), one of the leading and oldest clubs in Meghalaya.The club plays in the second division of the Indian league.They won their second successive Meghalayan league title this year, and will now take part in the qualifying round of the Indian league first division in February 2012.
At 26, the striker from Wangsisina, Thimphu, earns about Nu 1M per season.He recently extended his contract for another three years at the Shillong-based club he joined last year, after impressing the club officials during a month-long trial, following an invitation.

He left his job at a private firm to join his new club, after he was given go-ahead by BFF president, his club, Yeedzin's manager, Jigme N Norbu.

"I wake up with football. Football is my job now," said Chencho, who is also pursuing MBA as a career backup.He practises for two and half-hours between 1 and 3:30pm, besides working out thrice in the gym.

Chencho grew up idolising David Beckham, one of football's icons, and loves supporting Tottenham Hotspur, an English club.Manchester United, another English club's striker, Wayne Rooney is his favourite footballer.

Though he started playing football at an early age of eight, it was only in 2002, aged 17, he began his career with Druk Star FC, before moving to Yeedzin in 2004 until his departure in 2010 to RWFC.The departure also signalled the shift to a striker's role from right defense in the national team, and right out winger at Yeedzin FC.

His talent was duly recognized, and he has been a regular feature in the national squad since 2003.He regards his brace against Indian giants Mohun Bagan FC in September for his present club as the top achievement.The historic semi-final defeat to India during SAFF championship 2008 in extra-time remains the lowest moment in his career so far.
"Chencho is a wonderful player and friend, both on and off the field. He always inspired players around him and I always look up to him and maybe one day fulfil my dream just like him," said Yeshey Dorji, a close friend and former teammate at Yeedzin and national squad.

He missed this year's miserable SAFF campaign due to injury.He attributes Bhutan's drab performance to inclusion of U19 players, and asserted the need for the national team to play together year round like elsewhere.The Bhutanese national team practises for about a month before tournament.

"I play professionally and there's good money here but not in Bhutan. Money and facilities give us more energy and motivate to play. This is really true," he said.

He said that support from government and all stakeholders for the future, besides good facilities is must to improve football in Bhutan and believes that Bhutan has no dearth of talents. "With proper grooming and better facilities, football has a great future in Bhutan.

Source : Karma Pelden , KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, December 2011

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