BOB Bhutan Premier League is coming back soon with a bang
There’s an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation growing in the valleys of Bhutan as football fans in the country await what appears to be the biggest comeback of the Bhutan Premier League (BPL) next month.
For a country that was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the return of the league signals a return to a sense of normalcy for both football clubs and fans alike.
For the past two years, the league was held in empty stadiums and broadcasted online and on national television for fans at home. The Bank of Bhutan Bhutan Premier League is the men’s highest division of professional football in Bhutan. The league began its first season 10 years ago in 2012 as the National League with Yeedzin Football club emerged as the first ever winner amongst 6 teams.
From 2019 onwards, the national league was restructured, and competitions were rebranded. The top tier competition was renamed the Bhutan Premier league and the qualifying competition as the Bhutan Super League which was later changed again to Bhutan Premier League Qualifiers in 2020. Winners of the BPL trophy are selected as entrants to the AFC League.
Although the past two years did have their share of exciting moments in the league, it felt incomplete and devoid of spirit of the beautiful game, with empty seats serving as a grim reminder of the deadly pandemic. The thunderous applause, the singing, the thrill, and the agony of the football fans are set to return this year to a fully occupied stadium in a bigger and louder fashion with the gradual reopening of the country and lifting of restrictions on mass gatherings.
There will be a total of 10 clubs playing in the Bank of Bhutan BPL this year. The clubs include BFF Academy, Druk Lhayul, Paro FC, Paro Rinpung, Royal Thimphu College, FC Takin, Tensung FC, Thimphu City, Transport United and Ugyen Academy. However, only one team will emerge victorious out of the ten and lift the prestigious Bank of Bhutan BPL trophy by the end of this season at Changlimithang Stadium, the country's national stadium.
The matches have yet to start as of now but the participating clubs have been busy with internal transfers and the signing of new players. With around 20 international player signings from various African nations, Japan, Spain and India, the matches are geared to be competitive and of high stakes in nature.
Pema Dorji, the General Secretary of Paro FC, two-time league winners (2019,2021) said that they were looking forward to capturing the championship a third time, making them the only club to do so since the inception of the BPL 10 years ago. Currently, they are tied with Transport United and Thimphu City with 2 championship wins each in the league.
“We are looking forward to a great season this year, we have already signed 4 international players from Japan, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana to our team,” said Pema Dorji.
For now, football fans and footballers excitedly wait for the 13th of August, the day the BPL officially kicks off and divides the country into colourful competing factions while at the same time uniting them for the love of football.