Tennis players from P/ling schools stranded due to the pandemic

Under-12 tennis players from Phuentsholing were unable to compete in Thimphu this year

Young tennis enthusiasts from Phuentsholing Thromde were unable to participate in any of the tournaments held in Thimphu this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

These competitions are extremely crucial for the players who are selected in the national team based on their performances in these tournaments, not to mention the golden opportunity to play overseas.

Talking to Business Bhutan, Kinley Wangchuk, the tennis coach with the Phuentsholing Sports Association (PSA), said that their under-12 players could not compete in other dzongkhags this year.

“Prior to the pandemic, players from Tsirang, Phuentsholing, Wangduephodrang, Gelephu and Thimphu would compete with each other, and from among them best players were selected for the national level competition,” he said, adding that despite the travel restriction, the association has not stopped training them.

Currently there are 40 young enthusiasts from different local schools, all below 12 years, practicing regularly at the PSA tennis court.

Further, the coach shared how under normal circumstances the PSA had produced national level players but since the border town went under prolonged lockdown, their training sessions have been severely disrupted.

Similarly, he added that with just one coach having to train so many players at the same time, adhering to the Covid-19 protocol has been a challenge.

“So we have divided them into groups, allocating different timings for training,” he said, adding that a few experienced players have committed to help him train the young children, especially after the completion of two new tennis courts, which are expected to increase the club enrollment.

According to the General Secretary of the PSA, Sonam Lhagyel, with the addition of two new tennis courts, more students would be accommodated in their training program, besides also accepting interested local residents.

“With the completion of the project, the PSA will enroll more players based on membership fees, which will be used to sustain and maintain the two tennis courts,” he said.

Meanwhile, residents Business Bhutan interviewed are excited about the expansion plans of the PSA, which they believe will encourage their children to devote their extra time meaningfully rather than wasting it over online games and other mischievous activities.

Tshering Duba, a father of four school going children, congratulated the association for their initiative, which he feels will be life changing for many young people.

“My middle son is a tennis fan like me and I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for him to join the club and excel in the sport. I hope he plays for Bhutan one day,” he said.

Shaydup, another parent, also reiterated how the PSA has been successfully training local youths in soccer and tennis.

“I heard some under-14 players from Phuentsholing competed at the international arena a few years back, an indication that with better sports facilities, more youths would be able to represent Bhutan in the future,” he said.

Similarly, Prakash, a local resident, mentioned that the frequent lockdowns in Phuentsholing not only hampered his children’s studies but it also made them physically inactive. With nowhere to go, his children were confined to their rooms, mostly glued to their cell phones or television.

“They have become lazy and their academic performances have also deteriorated,” he said, adding how physical activities are an important part of the wholesome education.

Besides the two new tennis courts, an outdoor basketball court is also under construction in Phuentsholing.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing