The finals of the 2013 King’s Cup kicked off at Changlimithang stadium between Manang Marshyangdi (MMC) of Nepal and Yeedzin FC of Bhutan. The pressure was on from the start with both the teams unrelenting in their attack and tracking back of the ball. The home crowd fiercely supported the local team and a few rooted for the visitors.
It was my first time watching a stadium packed match in Bhutan.
Just as our southern neighbours love their cricket, we in Bhutan love our football in spite all the bickering and complaining we do, when our national team loses; we do appreciate their efforts when they put up a fight.
King’s cup is Bhutan’s first prestigious International Club football trophy which draws clubs from India, Nepal & Bangladesh. As the game progressed, so did the tackles, pushing and some elbowing-football is a contact sport after all. But everyone kept cool then suddenly yeedzin’s no. 7 scored the first goal, the crowd went berserk, drums rolled. The kid, he definitely seemed like one of the youngest on the pitch, was a pacey striker and had a good height but what caught my attention was the height of his jump; it was as if he could spring himself at will, out jumping opponents much taller than him. But MMC equalized.
The game continued, possession often exchanged between the two sides. Then like a fairy tale no. 7 scored again but only for MMC to equalize within a minute, through an own goal. Now the crowd was electrified and the game was a see-saw event filled with moans and gasps of near goal misses and cursing of opportunities not taken.
Albeit all the pressure, MMC scored again; there was a pin drop silence except for a few MMC fans cheering. However they were not able to close shop entirely as waves after waves of Yeedzin’s attack followed. The one I still vividly remember was a headed chance by the no.7 out jumping a 6 feet African defender marking him. The jump was majestic like an antelope springing forward, his effort missed by a whisker. The game went into extra time, the pressure was unrelenting; the home team would either equalize or concede.
The latter happened. The Nepalese club closed shop with the last kick of the game. At the final whistle, the crowd stood up in admiration for both the teams for a brilliant game of football, but I think everyone noticed a young star rise to that occasion. Number 7 had made an impression. Fast forward December 18, 2017, 4 years later.
I am watching Chencho Gyeltshen, that no.7, score a brilliant goal for Minerva Punjab live on Star sports 2. It’s surreal that I am watching him on TV, watching a Bhutanese athlete on Telly. Highest goal scorer for the national team, currently in the best form of his career, 2 assists, 2 goals in 4 games for his I League club standing on top of the league table. Things are looking good, still in his early twenties, content in the I-league now, maybe ISL next? Perfect epitome of where hard work and dedication can take you.
By Pelkhil Chamberlain Dorji
The writer is an Entrepreneur and Co-founder of the newly established company Bundle.bt