Football: Eight new foreign players have joined the ongoing Bank of Bhutan National League, signalling a new development of football in the country.

Out of the six participating clubs this year, three have hired at least one player from Nepal, India and Thailand.

Thimphu FC had hired a Spanish midfielder Alvaro, who became an instant hit after his successful performance at a club in Philippines, to strengthen the club’s midfield power during the tournament.

However, Alvaro had to leave the country after his VISA expired without even playing a single game.

The owner of the club, Yiwang Pindarica, said that Alvaro was hired to help develop football in the country but complicated official formalities restricted the player from participating in the games.

“We were able to get him a VISA for just a month which expired even before the tournament started. We’ve been trying to renew his VISA but the officials are reluctant to provide an extension,” she said. “If such initiatives to help improve the quality of football is not recognised and given importance due to it, it will take a long time for Bhutanese football to be professional.”

According to the Immigration Rules & Regulations (2012), “A non-immigrant who shall be permitted to stay in the Kingdom for the actual duration or maximum of thirty days whichever is less includes the following – Sportsperson coming to Kingdom for regional and international sporting event.”

Bhutan Clearing FC from Phuentsholing has also hired three Nepalese players for the tournament. Two players from Manang Marshyangdi Club and one from Morang FC arrived in the country on Saturday.

The three players signed an official contract with the club yesterday in Phuntsholing.

Bhutan Clearing’s head coach, Bikash Pradhan, said that the team is fully prepared for the tournament and are hopeful to lift the cup this year.

“Last year, we didn’t perform to the best of our capabilities. But, this year, with a few new players, we’re very confident,” said Bikash Pradhan.

Paro United FC has also brought in four foreign players for the tournament. The newly formed club by the Thai-Bhutan society and locals from Paro has hired a defender and a winger from India. The club  has also hired a striker and another defender from Thailand.

Thimphu FC with two wins from two matches is leading the table with six points. Paro United FC lost their first match at home against Thimphu FC.

Bhutan Clearing FC will play their first game of the tournament against Thimphu City FC at the College of Science and Technology’s football ground in Phuentsholing tomorrow.

Younten Tshedup