Scoring 24 goals in the 2021 BoB Bhutan Premier League, Paro FC’s striker Yeshi Dorji became one of the highest goal scorers in the county’s professional league.
The 19-year-old national team striker from Trongsa is known for his speed, stamina, tactics, and hard work on the pitch.
Starting in 2014, he played for Druk Stars FC’s Under (U)-16 squad for three years under coach Kota Namgay. Then, from 2018-2019, he played for Ugyen Academy FC, and most recently joined Paro FC in 2020.
Within six years, he has featured in many national and international games.
As an attacking midfielder, Yeshi was one of the key players in the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal where Bhutan earned a silver medal in the U-23 football competition.
He made his international debut against Guam during the World Cup qualifier in June 2019 and became the only footballer in the country to play for U-18, U-19, U-23, and the senior national team in 149 days.
Crediting Paro FC, Yeshi said he was more motivated than ever before after becoming a top scorer this season. “Paro FC is a good club. The club provides a salary for the players even during the off season, which doesn’t happen in other clubs.”
He said that through football, he could help his single mother and siblings. “My late father was a football enthusiast and he motivated me to play this game.”
Yeshi said it is important to dream big to achieve goals. “My dream is to be a professional footballer. People will say both good and bad things about you, but we should believe in ourselves.”
Like most Bhutanese footballers, Yeshi Dorji also aspires to play in other countries.
In January 2020, he signed a contract with a German football agency, TF Sports, and had a successful trial with German’s sixth division club, VfB Fichte Bielefeld.
After meeting the club organiser online, he applied for the trial.
He was about to become the first Bhutanese to play in Europe, but had to return home because of a visa issue and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t have a working visa and had to come back,” Yeshi Dorji said, adding that travelling to Europe is not easy. “I spent about Nu 200,000 to reach there.”
This year, he received an offer to play on trial in Cyprus for a second division club as a striker, but had to turn it down.
Meanwhile, Yeshi Dorji is a first-year student at the Royal Thimphu College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in mass communication. He joined the college in August.
He said he could not avail leave to play in this season’s Bhutan Premier League. “I made sacrifices to play for Paro FC. I have to recover the shortage in attendance now.”
Yeshi said he wanted to set an example and show that young people can study and also play football. “Most national players don’t continue their studies. I want to show that we can do it differently, with proper time management.”
He said most national players end up going to Australia after their football career. “I don’t want the same thing to happen to me. I have some business plans. I want to stay in Bhutan to create opportunities for the youth.”
Regarding the difficulty in getting opportunities to play in the Asian region, Yeshi said that football is still developing in the region. “Due to a limited foreign quota, regional clubs recruit players mostly from the developed countries to improve their teams.”
He said that football would further improve in Bhutan with more infrastructure and international exposure.
Edited by Tashi Dema