Going beyond the Trophy

In what many describes as an epical game, the Bhutanese basketball team emerged victorious in the finals of the Five Nations Championship, which was held in the Maldives on June 22, 2023. It is a historic moment for Bhutan, as it is the first time that a Bhutanese team is winning the finals of an international game. It doesn’t matter if the God of Basketball favored the Bhutanese team or not. We won. The Dragon in yellow and orange fluttered. The Nation continues to rejoice.  

We do not know if we ever thought that history would be made when the tournament began on June 14, 2023. Reality is staring at us – most of us are not very good at supporting indigenous idols. However, as the dice was rolled and the Dragon boys’ achievements soared, a lot of interest was generated. Social media posts stand testament to it. The “miracle” against Nepal in the semi finals further awakened us. We began to believe in our team. And they delivered.

From the moment the finals began, we could see that Bhutan’s team knew what they wanted and how to get it done. A sense of certainty was there among the team members, which helped them remain focused. There was team spirit and their minds and will were set on the game played. They forgot the self and worked as a team until the very end. And they listened to their coach.

This tournament has everything for a good script. Our boys displayed what speed, stamina, sight, including style meant. And as Rinchen Dorji, the captain told a local media right after the match, they worked very hard. As our jubilant heroes return, what does this victory mean for Bhutan?   

Sports has a long history of resolving conflicts, with history saying that the Olympic Games were the beginning of sport’s contribution to peace and love. In diplomacy, the latest and nearest example would be what is called as China’s ping-pong diplomacy. Sport also serves as a special and vital connecting thread that unites individuals across and within societies. Individuals become a team. So do spectators! All differences are put aside for the benefit of the team. It is a unifying factor.

Sports is also a tool for soft power, just as it is a strong and effective ambassador. Half of the world would probably not know that there is a country called Argentina, if not for football, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. Bhutan’s basketball team has done the same, strengthened Bhutan’s relevance in the region and the world.

This triumph would also augment other games like football and convey the message that if there is a word called “impossible,” there is also a word called “possible.” And this victory is more melodious as it comes close to His Majesty’s golden words in the address to the 56th Batch (Pilot BMT) on June 16, 2023, at Pelrithang, Gelephu.

“In our country, with our distinct attributes and characteristics, I truly believe that there is absolutely nothing that we cannot accomplish. If we set our minds to achieving certain goals and tasks, we can get them done.”