The Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) will start two full-fledged football academies from next year – one for boys in Changjiji and the other for girls in Gelephu.
The BFF has already started working on infrastructure development at both academies. Both academies are expected to start in the next academic year.
Both the football academies will train under 13, under 15 and under 17 teams. Staffed with 15 coaches, the academies will provide academic classes similar to mainstream schools while grooming these students to be professional players.
BFF’s media spokesperson, Phuntsho Wangdi, said that the academies are planned to provide a platform for interested students who do not get time in other schools.
“There are multiple activities held in other schools which are least important for sports lovers. So these academies will cater to those students who will make football as their career path,” he said.
BFF has been encountering challenges while taking student national players for international matches and training periods involving lengthy permission process from school administrations. With the football academies, such issues would be resolved.
As required by the education ministry, the academies will offer all the subjects till Class XII. The students can appear BCSEA’s board examinations too. BFF has consulted with the education ministry on the plan. The academies will follow the academic curriculum like other schools. However, post lunch session, students will be completely engaged in improving their footballing skills.
The selection process at the academy will be competitive, according to BFF. The best 18 for three categories will be selected annually for the two academies.
BFF will offer full scholarships to the selected students including meals and hostel facilities, books, uniforms and sanitary pads.
The structures at both the academies will be completed by June this year. It will be followed by installation of required facilities.
“BFF has already begun hunting for good academic teachers for quality education particularly the retired ones, who can continue teaching,” said Phuntsho Wangdi.
BFF receives infrastructure development fund annually from FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC). However, the fund for operation of the academy would be managed by BFF including salaries.
It could cost around Nu 20mn annually for BFF to operate both the academies. With most of the infrastructures already in place, BFF has estimated around Nu 2.5mn for the academic blocks.
After completing the course, the pool of players would have future prospects as they can be coaches at other academies and football clubs. They can also play at any interested clubs even at international leagues.
“Most of the football talents have been wasted and didn’t have good career with conflicts of talents and job markets. Now BFF will professionally groom them for their better future and feed for national team, clubs as players and coaches,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.
BFF’s initiative to start the academies is expected to boost interests amongst youths to take football as a career. “It will be a huge boost for the upcoming youths to develop their career from this sport,” said Phuntsho Wangdi.
Krishna Ghalley from Thimphu