“Dream Big! Some day we want to become a part of North Texas Soccer Association. I believe in my boys and I don’t see why we can’t produce one of many future international players who will proudly represent USA.” These are the words of A K Rana, manager of Dragon Legacy Soccer Club, based in the DFW area. Formed in December 2011, this team has grown by leaps and bounds in only eight short months.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished. We participated in the ANA Soccer tournament that was recently held in Dallas. We also earned runner up position in the 2nd Annual Bhutanese Interstate Soccer Tournament held in California in June. These are great achievements for us in this short time span. The boys are young, but are improving day after day. I am very hopeful and they are very promising”, adds Coach Bikash Ghale.
A small Buddhist monastery built inside an apartment reflects this promise. Captain Dawa Lama and his team sit across from me and reflect on their past and on what has changed for them in recent days. Says Dawa: “Soccer is a common dream of a lot of Bhutanese teenagers; through this common dream we want to change our future, our destiny. After a tiresome and difficult 20 years in the refugee camps of Nepal, now I think it’s the time for us to gear up and live our dreams.”
“Most of them played barefoot and never got to see any soccer games while in Nepal, but still they are so inspiring. Their love for the game is driving this new commitment to become better and achieve something for themselves and the community. For a community which is fragile and fragmented like ours, soccer can be something that will unite us”, adds LB Subba, a community supporter.
In addition to the improvement of their permanent team, the club now has an emerging B team (junior team) where a lot of new and younger players are tested and trained before they get to be a part of this family. The junior team plays frequently with the permanent team; these friendly matches are often organized to brush up the skills and keep the team in good physical form. Other communities’ have their own teams as well, like African United and Burmese Soccer Club. Friendly matches with these squads help the team to maintain their form. In addition, many of the players are part of their high school soccer teams, which helps them to gain good technical knowledge about the game and improve match temperament.
The journey for the team has not been an easy one so far. “We are struggling financially. We get donations from here and there to buy new soccer balls, but for the most part the players themselves are investing for the expenses. We have been able to buy jerseys and socks because it is crucial to have them to represent a united team in the field”, adds Rana. “We don’t have proper facilities either. We are lacking a fixed place or ground for our regular practice. We get to use the school ground close to us, but not always. We don’t have enough resources to secure it for every practice. This is a big problem for us”, adds Lama.
Despite the hurdles that they are facing, the team remains optimistic about their future. The team is now preparing for an intercity tournament to be held in Houston on July 27th. Several Bhutanese Soccer Clubs from all over the state of Texas will participate in the tournament. While participation in the tournament is crucial, the team is preparing for something big. The third interstate tournament for 2013 will be held in DFW. “Not only is organizing the tournament a big challenge, but putting up a better performance as a team compared to this year is crucial”, explains Rana.
As the team brings many teenagers together for a common cause; “Soccer”, the club wants to achieve some overarching goals. Rana explains: “Not every member from this team will become a professional, and we realize that. Yet being a member of the Dragon Legacy Club, we want them to become responsible Bhutanese Americans who will carry the legacy of being Bhutanese and preserve their background for generations to follow after them. If they are able to do that, then our mission is accomplished. To support this we organize cultural and literary programs, and also encourage our team members to actively participate in social and community events”.
Before leaving this little monastery, I crawled into the room where the trophy was kept in front of the Lord. I concluded that this might be their offering to the Almighty for what he has given them. This club is also giving a lot back to the community which was confined within barbed wires in Nepal for 2 decades. They are lending a voice of identity and confidence; and I am sure one day, not just the Bhutanese, but all Americans and the whole world will be proud of Dragon Legacy Soccer Club.