Celebrating Girls in Sports
A sixth grader was on her way to her school’s football try-outs when a cricket bat caught her attention. She picked it up and asked her friend to throw a ball which she hit impressively that ended up catching the coach’s attention. The rest was history- actually more of a beginning for Dechen Wangmo.
by Chimi Wangmo
Having discovered her love for cricket, Dechen dedicated herself to the game. At the end of 2007, news of forming Bhutan’s first female national team started going around. She got selected and since then has played various games in and outside the country, winning best batsman award continuously since 2013.
At 24, Dechen is the current captain of the National women’s cricket team, plays basketball for the Unicorns and football for FC Tertoen.
Your Proud Moments:
I am proud of the fact that I am the first woman from Bhutan to reach half century. In a tie series against Malaysia and Thailand in 2016, I was awarded Best Batsman of the Tournament. Until now, I have two sixes. All these moments give me a sense of pride yet also responsibility to encourage young girls to do the same.
I look up to two people: my head coach Mr. Damber Singh Gurung who carved an identity for himself with cricket and my present coach Mr. Sonam Tobgay who was illiterate and was told that he couldn’t become a cricket coach because he can’t speak in English. He proved everyone wrong by speaking better English than a graduate and becoming a coach. These stories of not giving up on your dreams keep me going when life hits hard.
Whether for boys or girls we don’t have an exclusive cricket ground in the country to practice the game. As of now, we have made a net in YHSS ground to do net sessions. However, center wicket is tough which becomes a problem for us when we have matches abroad. They have their own ground for cricket players alone where they practice. So they have a better sense of game. So lack of infrastructure is the biggest challenge for cricket players at the moment. However, with the completion of the construction of the cricket ground and academic project in Gelephug by the BOC, we are positive about the future.
As a female sportsperson, girls are bound to face some sort of objection from family members. That doesn’t help when girls, by nature, are hesitant to believe in their own potential. Most girls don’t come with the self-belief that boys have. If we look at our record, we have lost games only with few runs and have reached 4th position in the last Asian Cricket Council – just one position away from qualifying for the World Cup. This shows that we are equally capable of achieving in a field previously dominated by males. All we need is a belief in ourselves that ‘we can’, reaffirmed by family support and a conducive environment to perfect the play.
Why do you think we need more girls in sports?
We are competent. Secondly, playing sports instills a sense of time management, team play, self-esteem and social interactions that shapes you as a person. Whatever you choose to do in life, a good personality plays a major role to succeed and playing sports helps you in developing that disciplined personality.
I’d like to urge parents to encourage their children (both boys and girls) to play sports. This engages and keeps us away from the many distractions we are prone to at a younger age. To young girls, come forward. As I mentioned earlier, we are capable of achieving a lot in this field. We are starting at the same time as the women around the world in the field of sports, and we can harness this opportunity to perform, compete, and do our country proud.