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Turf caretaker referees part-time
Khandu Tobgyel, January 21, 2013
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Bal Bahadur has found good income in part-time refereeing

Bal Bahadur Tamang, 21, is from Dagana. In the cold winter evenings, he is mostly seen refereeing at the football matches in Changlingmithang stadium in Thimphu.

Bal Bahadur is not a professional referee. He is the in-charge and caretaker of the artificial turf in Changlingmithang stadium. He lives in a small hut in Changjiji, provided free by Bhutan Football Federation (BFF).

As the caretaker of the turf, he gets a salary of Nu 4,000. After all the cuts, the pay comes to Nu 3,400. And living on that much in a place like Thimphu is difficult, he says.

Bal Bahadur gets lucky when teams show up without a referee. They ask him to do the honour for a small fee which he gladly accepts. But refereeing is not a pretty job, he says. Players blame him for petty reasons. But he has learnt to play around them.

He makes anywhere between Nu 200 and Nu 300 refereeing for a game. On a good day, he makes more than Nu 1,500 a day.

Bal Bahadur doesn’t mind low pay from BFF because his is not a 9 to 5 job. He doesn’t get a day off. In fact, he makes more money during holidays because more people come to play. Weekends are the busiest days when he has to work for a minimum of 16 hours a day.

“Refereeing is the thing that keeps me alive although that’s not my real job. In fact, I make more money from refereeing than from my regular job,” he says. “Otherwise, it is really difficult to survive.”

Sometimes, on a busy day, Bal Bahadur has to go on refereeing without lunch. On the busiest days, his lunch is usually at around 4 pm.

Because of his busy schedule he has a crazy routine. His dinner is at 1 am and breakfast anywhere between 4 am and 5 am. By 6 am he starts from home to prepare the ground for the first game at 7 am.

Travel eats a huge chunk of his savings, though, because he has to run at odd times.

“I am tight moneywise but I must travel in taxis. There is no other way,” he says.

Tags: Football
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