This year BOB Bhutan Premier league will start early compared to previous year mainly due to the covid-19 situations in the country. Bhutan football management felt that with early start, they will have ample time to complete the tournament even if there is lockdown in coming days.
With football adapting to the new normal of the pandemic, Bhutan Football Federation has done away with the Bhutan Premier League Qualifiers 2021 which was supposed to start from month of May 2021. Total of 10 teams will compete six from the last years BPL teams which includes the defending champion Thimphu City Fc, Paro Fc, Ugyen Academy FC, Transport United Fc, High quality United Fc and Tensung Fc and new four fresh champions directly promoted from D-league Gomo Fc from Punakha, Fc Gelephu from Sarpang, Druk Lhayul Fc from Thimphu and Rinpung Fc from Paro. Team from Chhukha dzongkhag could not participate due to the covid-19 scenario.
With the tournament starting from May 23rd 2021 some clubs have cited limited time for preparation. The defending champion Thimphu city after returning from Maldives and having to follow COVID-19 protocols, which is to undergo the 21 days quarantine. City President Hishey Tshering said that “Despite having the benefit of starting our training early for the international match, due to the 21 days quarantine we had to restart all our fitness training but I am sure we will be ready by the time the BPL kicks off.” He added that,“Our club being the champion of last season, other teams will naturally see us as an experienced and a strong team to go against hence we need to keep up our game throughout the championship so our players sure have certain amount of pressure”.
As they news came shocking for the newly promoted clubs to BPL, Rinpung Fc Captain Dawa Gyeltshen shared that they were pleasantly shocked to be directly getting into the BOB Bhutan Premier League. He added, “It was always our aim to qualify for the BPL and having the opportunity to play in the league is a dream come true”. The club in spite of having problem with availability of ground due to the pandemic has started training in full swing right after the Paro district league and remains confident that their passionate young players with commendable team work will keep them strong in the run for the cup. He personally thinks that THE REDS and PARO FC are the toughest teams to face this season.
But on other hand the team from Gelephu is one the who is facing the music with Covid-19 restrictions. From being a new team, not having enough time to train, to the need of quarantining for 7days for the tournament, the Sarpang Champion is the epitome of being passionate about football. They have been facing hardships since the district league having to report to the stadium, which is in the heart of Gelephu town, at 5:00 am in the morning to avoid spectators and crowding. The acting coach of FC GELEPHU, Ganga Ram Ghalley says, “Qualifying for BPL itself is a victory for our team. We are sure that we will be able to win over the 3 new teams but we will try our best to give the senior 6 teams a good counter-attack”. He also stated that the decision to take part in the tournament despite all the challenges is to engage the youths and let them experience the national championship. “It is like my players were playing in the paddy-field and are directly taken to the national stadium. We are training on hard ground here and it worries me if my players will be able to adjust to the turf in Changlimithang. Their speed and skills might be affected due to the different kind of ground they have to play on”. The club also didn’t have a qualified coach until recently and even after finding one from Paro, they aren’t able to get trained under their new coach as he cannot travel to Gelephu due to the current situation.
The newly crowned champion of Thimphu district league Druk Lhayul Fc is old campaigner to the tournament since 90 % of the players has played the BOB BPL in many occasions. The head Coach Sonam Tenzin said that he brings out the best play from his players as he has the understanding of all the players and their strength. “Not having to go through the BPL Qualifiers is a very good opportunity for our club and players because right from the start BPL was our aim. We were told that it was due to COVID-19 and it was indeed a pleasant surprise” said the new boss. “Unlike the district league, this time it is BPL so we need to level up our tactics and training”.