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A trailblazer of Bhutanese soccer : Jitu

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After the resettlement in third world countries and with the wider access to internets, many in the Bhutanese diaspora appear to have been, by and by, showing greater affinity towards various social entertainments.

And of late, soccer, music and dance have become the appetizing source of accruing happiness and peace of mind.

Against this milieu, there has been a substantial rise in the number of Bhutanese youths aspiring to establish their names in the communities and beyond.

Jitu in his uniform
Jitu in his uniform

Among these energetic  and rising stars, Jitu Basnet, 34, a former refugee from Beldangi I stands high and firm when it comes to connect Bhutanese soccer in almost all the states of America. He is undoubtedly a trailblazer of Bhutanese soccer — taking the ethos of soccer (football) alive from the muddy grounds of refugee camps to stupendous stadiums in America.

Cool and composed and a father of four, Jitu hazily recounts playing with a ball of rags on a rocky ground at the age of seven in a small hamlet in Tsirang, Bhutan, with a small group of village peers. Since then, he never looked back and as times rolled by, his attachment to soccer each day pushed him to a newer height.

Despite being rooted out of Bhutan in 1991 with  his family members and  finding his way to refugee camp in Eastern Nepal, his passion, craze and intimacy with soccer never faded way even in the midst of panics and shocks during the initial phase of refugee life in camps.

Rather, he chose to work on turning all those impending misfortunes into strength and with the passage of time, he began witnessing his skills, aptitude and passion pushing him to a wider frame!

Eventually, he had been very successful in leading his team to many cross country tournaments in eastern Nepal. He is also the recipient of many awards and decorations.

Come summer, and when it’s rife for Bhutanese players and enthusiasts to brace up for annual Inter- State Soccer Tournament which is normally held in a mutually consented State among players, Jitu is a torchbearer.

He is always seen in the forefront, counseling and directing the fellow participants and leaving no stone unturned to precisely bring the entire tournament to a desired end.

Jitu Basnet in Beldangi-I camp prior to his resettlement
Jitu Basnet in Beldangi-I camp prior to his resettlement

He foresees good future for Bhutanese players in America and hopes to see a few of his juniors in the national level someday.

Nonetheless, he is an ideal role model in the Bhutanese community of Nashville as well.

He always advises youths and elders to keep drugs, smoking and alcohol at bay for the sake of good health. Apart from his hectic job schedule, he also sets some time aside to engage boys in the community in the field nearby.

His relentless effort and unflinching determination towards sports seem to have served him a notable incentive in America too.

Today, besides being a head coach in Cameroon Middle School he is one of the registered trainers and referees in the State of Tennessee and his task involves overseeing, training, refereeing and making rosters for after — school soccer matches in most of the schools in Nashville.

(All pictures used herein are courtesy of Jitu Basnet)

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