Chering Namgyal | Gyalpozhing
Football fans in Mongar complain about the lack of professionals to handle the artificial turf in Gyalpozhing, Mongar.
The footballers said there was no professional referee in place and those organized by the turf keeper were untrained.
“Referees cannot resolve mix-ups, which often leads to quarrels between players,” said footballer, Thinley. “The Bhutan Olympic Committee should employ a certified referee. This will create jobs for young people.
He claimed footballers had to pay a separate referee fee for a non-professional on top of the hefty pitch fee.
People come from the towns of Mongar, Gyalpoizhing, Lingmethang and gewogs to play the game.
They said there was a need for dedicated professionals to manage the pitch, which is built with high expense to maintain.
Residents said the floor was also not clean. The floor also went without a flashlight for over six months.
They also said that the ground charges are also quite high and not affordable.
A footballer, Tenzin, said games and sports were meant for fitness, but many could not afford it. “I think it’s high time ground charges were restructured to benefit ordinary people and motivate greater participation.”
Many have said there is a lack of transparency and accountability when collecting fees.
“We don’t know how much the custodian deposits in the government account. All the money should be deposited in the government account and he should receive a salary,” a footballer said.
The goalkeeper, Dorji Singye, said the fee is being deposited into the Mongar Sports Association (MSA) account.
He said it was difficult to find a trained referee locally and he hired students who knew the rules of football. “Some players have attitude problems.”
He said players only pay Nu 300 as referee fees.
According to the goalkeeper, there are no proper toilets for the players and the BOC has set up a temporary shed with a green net for urinating. “Some even prefer to urinate and smoke around the BOC room despite having informed them and that itself has become a problem.”
The ground fee at night is Nu 2,700 and Nu 2,500 per match, excluding referee fee of Nu 300.
The first-ever national-level football tournament, the “President’s Cup”, was held in Gyalpoizhing. During the tournament, some professional footballers shared that the condition of the pitch was badly damaged and needed maintenance.
It was learned that the floor could not be maintained after the machine used for artificial turf maintenance and dusting called ‘Turf Boy’ broke down three years ago and could not be replaced as it had to come from Germany.
Lighting was restored after buying filaments overseas just before the lockdown was relaxed.
Officials from the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) said there were more than 200 trained referees in the east capable of manning match officials, and finding professional referees should not be a problem.
An official said the BFF is also ready to provide training as needed like refereeing or pitch maintenance if the local management committee like the MSA formally writes to the federation.
MSA officials could not be contacted.
BOC built and handed over the 17 million astroturf to Mongar DSA in 2017.
Meanwhile, as football in the region resumes, at least three futsal pitches – two in Mongar and one in Lingmethang have sprung up in the past two years.