BOB Premier League 2024 kick-starts at Changlimethang



The much-awaited BOB Bhutan Premier League (BPL) kick-started at the Changlimithang stadium, Thimphu, on May 11. In the inaugural match, Transport United FC emerged victorious, defeating Tsirang FC with a score line of 2-1.

The match witnessed Transport United’s dominance in the first half, as they swiftly netted two goals within the opening 30 minutes. Despite Tsirang FC managing to pull one goal back in the 39th minute, they were unable to level the score before the final whistle.

In this season’s BPL, there are a total of 10 clubs participating, including two new clubs: Dagana FC and Phuntsholing FC. Additionally, Tsirang FC and Samtse FC have qualified for this season for the first time.

Football enthusiasts eagerly anticipate witnessing all the action, which will be streamed live on the Bhutan Football Federation’s (BFF) YouTube page.

Raj Kumar Gurung, the 26-year-old coach of Samtse Football Club, reflected on his journey within the league. Having served as an assistant coach for four years in the BPL, Gurung articulated his expectations for Samtse FC.

He emphasizes the pivotal role of management support in propelling the club towards greater heights. Gurung reminisces about the arduous path to qualification for the BPL, where out of eight competing teams, only four secured a spot.

Samtse FC’s historic qualification after a twelve-year hiatus brought immense joy to players, management, and fans alike, marking a significant milestone in Samtse Football history.

With aspirations set high, Gurung said Samtse FC’s ambitious target for the season, securing a place in the top five. However, amidst their pursuit of success, the club faces a notable challenge: the lack of support from local fans.

Gurung highlighted the potential impact of even modest financial contributions from the community, emphasizing its profound significance in bolstering the team’s prospects. As the season unfolds, Gurung’s words

serve as a reminder of the collective effort required to nurture and uplift Bhutanese football, uniting players, management, and fans in a shared pursuit of excellence.

Tashi Samdrup Jatsho, a 21-year-old player from Samtse FC, hailing from Haa said, “I proudly play for Samtse FC. The challenges our club has faced are evident to us all, rejoining the BPL League after a twelve-year absence means we’re grappling with a lack of adequate facilities and advanced equipment, despite the dedicated efforts of our management.”

Nevertheless, he said his expectations for his club remain sky-high. He added they are acutely aware of our deficiencies, but through unwavering dedication and rigorous training, they are determined to give their best in every match.

“Our aim is nothing short of the top, and I have full faith in my team’s ability to reach that pinnacle,” Tashi said.

The head of the Competition Department of BFF Kinley Dorji emphasized that one of the most significant challenges facing the clubs in this season’s BPL is the logistical issue of travel.

He said that with the requirement to play both home and away matches, clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their travel arrangements. “This challenge is compounded by factors such as distance, scheduling conflicts, and limited transportation options in certain areas.” He added that another significant challenge faced is the management struggle encountered by many players, who are predominantly students.

“Balancing the demands of rigorous training schedules and frequent matches with academic commitments poses a formidable obstacle.” He added that with delicate balance often leads to conflicts between sporting obligations and academic responsibilities, impacting players’ ability to fully dedicate themselves to both areas.

Consequently, clubs and players alike are challenged to find creative solutions to optimize their time management strategies, ensuring they can excel both on the field and in the classroom.

“The challenge emphasizes the need for comprehensive support systems and flexible scheduling arrangements to accommodate the dual pursuits of athletic and academic excellence,” he added.

Bikash Pradhan, 42, currently serving as the head coach of Phuentsholing Heroes FC, holding an AFC A license with 17 years of coaching experience and 7 years as a national player, stated that his football journey has been enriched with diverse experiences.

He said he had the privilege of leading the Bangladesh Ragib Rabya Football Academy around 2017 and 2018. He said, “Our club, born from the passion of two former players, grapples with financial hurdles, characteristic of our nation’s football landscape.”

Bikash stated securing adequate financial backing remains an ongoing struggle while their training endeavors are hampered by infrastructure limitations, particularly concerning access to the training schedule.

Nima Wangdi, the 25-year-old captain of Thimphu City FC said, “In my role as team captain, I hold the firm belief that each member of our squad should dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to both training sessions and competitive matches.”

He added that it is his fervent hope that their collective efforts will result in effective communication, unwavering support for one another, and a steadfast commitment to maintaining discipline both on and off the field.

Hari Gurung, 32, currently serving as captain and goalkeeper for Transport United in the ongoing BOB Premier League 2024 said that managing Transport United FC is a huge task. He said that the President of the Club manages everything from finances to operations.

“He keeps the oldest and most storied club thriving, running the club involves much more than matches,” Hari said, adding the sponsors play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges, ensuring their success and sustainability.

As of today, BPL season has seen the completion of 10 matches between various clubs. These matches have been a testament to the competitive spirit and skill displayed by the teams involved.

This season also saw the inaugural match at the new artificial turf at Dagapela took place on 23 May, featuring a thrilling encounter between Tensung FC and Daga United FC. Tensung FC emerged victorious with a commanding 4-goal lead, showcasing their prowess on the field.

The standout performance of the match came from Pelden Wangchuk of Tensung FC, who not only contributed significantly to his team’s success but also earned the prestigious title of ‘Man of the Match.’

The event marked the beginning of a new era in the local football scene, highlighting the importance of modern infrastructure in fostering the growth and development of the sport within the community.

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