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National School Games: Building character through sports

A time to play and make friends

Youthful energy and exuberance pierced through the otherwise silent Punakha valley as the 6th national school games 2006 got underway simultaneously at Punakha Higher Secondary School, Khuruthang Middle Secondary School and Ugyen Academy.

Over 764 students from about 140 schools across the country are participating in seven sports besides 14 disciplines of athletics.

Kicking off the five-day sports meet, girls from Tsirangte Lower Secondary Schooldowned Katsho Lower Secondary School 2-1 in women's football.

In the afternoon basketball, volleyball, football, and chess were played simultaneously. Athletics started on the second day of the event.

Six schools, comprising of boys and girls teams, are participating in basketball, volleyball, football, badminton, table tennis and chess while eight schools participating in both boys and girls teams, will be competing in the athletics today onwards. Introduced since last year, six teams will also play the national level traditional archery meet for higher secondary schools.

"Because of the difficulty in arranging technical people and appropriate facilities we have no option but to organise it this way," said chief coordinator of the games, Nima Gyeltshen explaining on the different venues for matches.

"We have to compromise with the standard and the lack of adequate facilities." The national school games was the apex of school sports where winners from intra-dzongkhag and regional tournaments competed. This year the government spent about Nu. 1.7 million in organising the meet.

But competition aside, the sports meet was fun, according to participating students. "Everyone is friendly and nice and the facilities are far better than what we have in our school," said a class VIII student of Tshenkharla lower secondary school.


Ugyen Norbu of Mongar Higher Secondary School said that it was a time to make friends. "At home all there is to do is watch television."

It was also memorable experiences for many. Chorten Yangzom of Bidung Lower Secondary School was visiting Punakha for the first time. She will be competing in shot put and said otherwise she would be fetching firewood at home.

"I made so many friends and the food is delicious," she said adding that Thimphu students were, however, difficult to approach.

Opening the Games, the director of department of youth and sports, Sonam Tobgay Dorji, told the participating students that sports was not only about winning but also of building character-through participation, teamwork and leadership.

"As we open the 6th national school games I urge you to be humble in victory, gracious in defeat and above all have fun."

Going by what officials at the department of youth and sports are saying, the school sports is set to undergo changes.

A time to play and make friends

According to joint director of the department, Karma Wangchuk, though the study of logistics would take some time before the changes are implemented, but most probably by next year on, sports leagues would replace the national schools games and both its regional and intra-dzongkhag level competitions.

The change in system of school sports had become necessary in order to avail opportunity to every child, according to the joint director. "Otherwise, children only from classes seven and above get the opportunity."

The school children in primary and community schools did not get the opportunity to participate. Also, there were plans to segregate the sport discipline wise and have the tournament for each sport discipline separately in order to overcome the logistic problems. And respective sports federations will also be obliged to participate more actively in tournaments.

Contributed byBishal Rai,Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper
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