Nine clubs from Bhutan and India, five from Bhutan and four from West Bengal, will be playing the first Samtse Championship that kicks off on January 6 next year.

The dzongkhag will over 20 days, host one of the biggest football championships in the country.

The football championship will play five national league clubs – Transport United, Paro FC, Thimphu City FC, Ugyen Academy FC, and a home team from Samtse.

Samtse championship will also host four teams; Jaigaon Football Club, finalists of Dooars Premier League 2018, Gairkaata FC, Totopara United FC, and Prince United from West Bengal, India.

The four national clubs won a spot each to play the championship after finishing as the top four teams at the recently concluded national league 2018.

Until last year, only one team from the national league, the champion team, had a chance to play AFC pre-qualifiers when rest of the teams waited for the next edition of Thimphu league and National league.

BFF institutionalised the championship to enhance the standard of football in the country and to provide Dzongkhag Sports Associations across the country to come up with their local teams.

BFF’s media spokesperson, Phuntsho Wangdi said the championship would gain the interest of locals and also help in developing a larger pool of players for the national squad selection.

Prior to Samtse championship that will play four national league clubs and the clubs from abroad, the dzongkhag open winter championship allowed only one national league club to play to date.

The championship is also aimed to enable dzongkhag administrations to invest in the development of the sport and related infrastructure at the dzongkhag level.

Today, two national level football championships, Thimphu League and National leagues are played in Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, and Phuentsholing.