Sunday 29 March 2020, 06:00

Football in Nepal and Bhutan helping to combat COVID-19

  • Himalayan nations join the fight against coronavirus

  • Bhutan Football Federation donates money to royal foundation

  • All Nepal Football Association opens its doors

Swift, decisive action is currently more prevalent than ever in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus as effectively as possible, as suggested by WHO in conjunction with FIFA. Around the world, football associations and other organisations are sharing these potentially lifesaving measures and rolling out their own ideas and initiatives.

Take Bhutan, for example. Although this kingdom nestled on the eastern edge of the Himalayas has only registered a few coronavirus cases so far, it has immediately reacted by closing its borders. While the number of cases there is still low, Bhutan has also entered a state of emergency, with its citizens abiding by recommended rules that will undoubtedly result in many cases of financial hardship across the country.

After reflecting on the situation, officials at the Bhutan Football Federation decided to donate Nu. 5 million (approximately USD 66,000) to the royal Kidu Foundation.

Bhutan’s royal Kidu Foundation

  • Founded in 2009 when Bhutan received a wave of donations after several natural disasters hit the country

  • Supports the population in the areas of education, the rule of law, democracy and media, sustainable economic development and preservation of the country’s environmental and cultural heritage

"If corona spreads in Bhutan, we must face up to the fact that we have very few financial resources with which to tackle it," Ugyen Wangchhuk, general secretary of the Bhutan Football Federation, told "We wanted to make a donation to the Kidu Foundation to help fight this virus."

Of course, all footballing activities and mass gatherings are currently suspended in Bhutan. The Kidu Foundation will use the donation to purchase medical instruments and support those who find themselves in financial distress as a result of closed borders and other restrictions.

FIFA Forward provides Nepal's first ever residential girls' football academy

Another Himalayan nation that finds itself in a similar situation is Nepal, home to the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest. Again, while only a handful of COVID-19 cases have been registered here, the country has closed its borders and called a halt to international flights.

"We are blessed that there have been no deaths here so far," Karma Tsering Sherpa, president of the All Nepal Football Association, told

To ensure that the country is prepared for any further outbreak, the All Nepal Football Association has offered the government the use of its buildings for potential illness or quarantine cases. These facilities include the association’s hotel, its dormitories and, pictured above, the residential girls’ football academy founded with funds donated by initiatives including FIFA Forward. Already, that offer has been taken up, with 36 people quarantined and 54 beds installed at the ANFA Academy.

"The government can make use of these buildings," Sherpa added. "We are not currently playing any football. We are planning to financially support a COVID-19 government foundation in the near future, while the government can also use our two ambulances, which were also funded by FIFA Forward."

To raise awareness of the much-needed social and hygiene rules, the All Nepal Football Association has also produced a video in which players address the population.