Bhutan Baseball and Softball is in the process of establishing its first inter scholastic league from 2021.
Bhutan Baseball and Softball is a community association including youth practices and games for those aged between 6-18 years old, local club teams with members aged above 16 years and an adult national league aged above 18. All these programs are currently based in Thimphu.
Bhutan Baseball and Softball was officially launched in 2013 by co-founders Karma Dorji and Matthew Desantis. Within one month of its launch, over 500 players attended the training sessions and scrimmages in Thimphu.
Co-founder Karma Dorji said: “We are thankful to the Bhutan Olympic Committee and JICA for helping us to establish early groundwork which helped to draw more interest and make the game more accessible to the youth.”
In 2014, the Adult National League was formed consisting of three teams: BCCB, Due Ten Du Pawos’, and the Druk Minups. BCCB currently holds the trophy as the reigning national champions. “We encourage the youth to come to watch these adult games; both to grow parent-child bonds and also to establish baseball as a multi-generational sport.”
Talking about the modalities he said currently, they are operating solely on volunteerism and they are inviting individuals share a love for baseball, sports, and healthy living in general. “We have around 800 youths and adults registered in the program with an interest to develop their skills as baseball or softball players, coaches, and umpires.”
He said there are 83% male participants and 17% female, 68% are training as players, and 32% as coaches and umpires. Talent varies from beginner to seven years of experience.
Following the COVID-19 protocols, the team is engaging a handful of students and volunteers
placed by the relevant agencies. “We are conducting basic drills and familiarization of the game over the weekends,” he added.
Sharing about the accessibility of baseball in the country, Karma Dorji said most of the operations are based in Thimphu since over one by eighth of the population reside in the capital. However, for interested players residing in other dzongkhags, there is still an opportunity to play: the BOC will be introducing baseball to the districts during each Olympic Day and there will be an inaugural international camp for players and coaches in the spring of 2021.
This event will be hosted by the reputable US nonprofit, Play Global and there will be two professional international coaches who will lead the event to teach baseball skills to Bhutanese players. “The dates are tentatively set for the second half of March.”
The coaching staff cons
ists of various Bhutanese from the Adult National League. And there are also player development coordinators who have been players in the system for years.
“We have also been fortunate to have steady professional training through the years by Matthew Desantis an American who has lived in Bhutan since 2013.”
Play Global and their annual camps have partnered with the US nonprofit, Pitch in For Baseball (PIFBS) and supports and sponsors the federation. “We have also received equipment from Will Desantis (Wilton CT High School) and the US nonprofit, Baseball without Borders Foundation.”
Talking about upcoming programs, he said spring will be exciting as an international camp for players and coaches in March will be held.“We are in conversation with the Bangladesh national team to Bhutan to compete in a friendly match. This will showcase the best players from each nation.”
Sonam Tashi from Thimphu