Tenzin Dorji

“As a kid dreaming to become a footballer, I did not get the support from my apa and he has very strong reasons for that as a parent. Every parent wants to see their child doing well in life and back then, sports was still developing and there was no promising future from it. Apa wanted me to focus on my studies. I would sneak out to play football and I will have my reward after returning home from apa.

I am from Zhemgang but after my mother passed away few months after giving birth to me, my father settled here in Thimphu and we have been living here since then.

During my early years until sixth grade, I embraced the joys spending carefree days with my friends, roaming the streets. It was during these playful times that I stumbled upon my true passion – football, a sport that ignited a fire within me.

I didn’t even know the value of time if I could play football. Me and my friends would go to Changjiji ground as early as six in the morning forming a team of 3 or 4 with bets of either Nu.10 or 20 and come back home only in the evening.

My friends even nicknamed me ‘Addict Bhai’ once. They said like other people getting addicted to drugs and alcohol, I was a football addict. My role model in football is a Spanish player called Fernando Torres. Even though he is retired now, I still follow him.

Comparing my talent in football and academics has the gap of heaven and earth. Even if I tried hard to study during my school days, I would not understand anything. Maybe it’s because my interest was into something else. Nevertheless, with my parents’ guidance and support, I completed high school.

My saddest moment was missing my first international game when I got selected for the Under-12 national squad to play in Iran. So, while all my friends were preparing to go there, apa did not allow me to go since he was concerned about my studies and the potential for injuries ruining my future.

My professional football journey commenced in 2013 when I joined Thimphu Raven Club under the guidance of coach Namgay. After a year there, I earned a spot in the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) National Academy. I’ve been part of the national team ever since.

After I got selected in the BFF Academy in 2014, apa’s view on football changed. Especially after the match between Sri Lanka and Bhutan where we won the match. Since then, he started supporting me with everything, starting from buying the essential things like boots for me. Maybe he understood how a footballer can also bring pride to the nation.

My happiest moment will be getting the MVP during the Coronation Cup and getting the opportunity to watch the World Cup in Qatar because of it. I also had my proudest moment when Bhutan came out as Runners-up in the SAFF Under-23 played in Nepal. Although I could not play in the tournament due to my injury; I was very proud since team Bhutan came home with an international medal.

I earned as a footballer for the first time in 2015 while playing for Drukstar, and I gave that money to my father. But that was not my first earning as a person. Since I was in class 7, I started working in constructions sites during vacations to earn on my own. I belong to a middle-class family and since I had many siblings, apa could not provide everything that we wanted. I used to earn about Nu. 600/- a day so that I can buy my own necessary things when school resumed.

Today, football is my livelihood, and my dedication and hard work have paid off. When I retire from football, my dream is to become a football coach, a dream I’ve cherished since my childhood.

I am 26 years old now and I may have about 5-7 years more until I retire. During this time, I aspire to win an international trophy for my country, not just for us but also to open doors of opportunity for the young footballers who follow their dreams.”

 

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