Football: Paro United FC is the newest club to join the national league this season.  Seven teams will take part in the tournament this year – four from Thimphu and one each from Punakha, Paro, and Phuntsholing.

FC Rigsum is one of the new clubs to enter the A-division level from B-division this year.  A total of 27 clubs – eight A-division, 10 B-division and nine C-division – have registered this season with Bhutan Football Federation (BFF)

Competition officer with BFF, Kinley Dorji, said that the rise in the number of clubs could be because of growing interest in the game. “The quality of players has improved drastically over the years.”

Every new club with the federation has to start from B-division.  If a club wants to get into A-division, it has to top the B-division, and then play a relegation match with the team that is at the bottom of A-division.

Prabhu Mangpang, manager of Friends United FC, said that the club was preparing for the tournament and would start practice sessions starting February.  The team, which is currently in B-division, is looking to top the division and book a place in the A.

“We want to play relegation match and win,” said Prabhu Mangpang.  This is the third season that the club is competing from the same division.

Yiwang Pindarica, manager of Thimphu United FC, said Bhutanese football might not be that bright at the moment, but it is set to improve. “It’s a long way to go, but slowly and steadily things will get better.”

Kinley Dorji said that the federation and the club are facing financial challenges.  Although BFF gives every team a certain amount of money to run the club, it is not sufficient.  BFF gives Nu 25,000 to C-division, Nu 30,000 to B-division and Nu 100,000 to A-division clubs every season.

“If more private agencies can help sponsor the clubs, it’ll make a big difference,” said Kinley Dorji.  Meanwhile, BFF is also working out new marketing strategies.

By Younten Tshedup