Thinley Namgay 

Three men’s and two women’s football clubs have acquired the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) license.

While the men’s clubs are Paro FC, Thimphu City FC and Transport United FC, the women’s clubs are Thimphu Women FC and Mandala FC.

Ten clubs, including six women clubs, had applied for the AFC license. One of the men’s clubs that did not meet the criteria was Ugyen Academy FC.

The women’s clubs that did not meet the criteria are Ugyen Academy FC,

Yangchenphug FC, Paro FC and Taktshang FC.

The clubs were assessed based on their sporting, infrastructure, administrative, finance and legal standards.

A club must have youth squads comprising players within the age group of 15-21 years affiliated with recognised competitions to be eligible for the license.

The club must also have a team each in the age groups of 10-14 years and under 10 years. As per the AFC rules, the club should also have a policy signed by all players to tackle racism in football under the sporting criteria.

Grassroots programmes that aim for mass participation of people from all walks of life are also expected to be part of a club’s framework.

The club should also have a secretariat with a general manager, a recognised finance officer, a security officer, a media officer, a medical doctor, a physiotherapist, a first-team head coach and an assistant coach, among others.

The Bhutan Football Federation’s  (BFF) competition officer, Kinley Dorji, said the AFC licensed clubs are now eligible to participate in AFC tournaments and activities.

Meanwhile, eight clubs recently fulfilled the BFF licensing requirements.

They are Tensung FC, FC Takin, Gelsar United FC, Friends United FC, Tertoen FC, Namlha FC, Thimphu Raven FC and Paro Rinpung FC. Druk Lhayul FC also has a BFF license.

Kinley Dorji said the clubs would be eligible to take part in top competitions, including Bhutan Premier League. “BFF licensing criteria are almost similar to the AFC’s  requirement.”

Panchali FC, Motithang United FC and Gelephu FC did not fulfil the BFF licensing criteria.