Jhapa FC became the first team to announce their marquee signing for the upcoming Nepal Super League season on Sunday morning. Anjan Bista, prolific Nepal international forward Anjan Bista was announced as their marquee through an event held in Kathmandu. One of the three NSL newcomers; Jhapa might be new to the franchise league but to the footballing circuit, they are a pretty well-known football club.
Jhapa FC embarked on their journey a long time back as the first-ever privately owned club of the country. This may come as a surprise to some who are reading this for the first time, but Jhapa FC, despite being a new team, has managed to develop a strong fanbase in the east. They competed in the C Division League qualifiers earlier this year but were unable to advance to the third tier, despite many hardships and struggles to get the team on the country's league hierarchy. And there are numerous reasons for this failure.
Unfortunately, Nepali league football is centered in the country's capital. It's a big deal for the management team to send a small team from the country's easternmost region to the capital with limited resources to compete for a few days. Perhaps this explains why only a few teams from outside the valley can be found in the country's top divisions. That is, however, a different topic to consider on other days.
Jhapa FC President Arpan B Khadka At A Press Meet in 2011
Jhapa FC was established back in 2011 with a unique approach in the footballing fraternity with an aim of doing the same thing; develop Nepali football but with a unique approach. Then, hardships followed. They played the C Division qualifiers after years of struggle and couldn’t get in. And now, they have turned the club into a franchise in a league, that is unique in its own regards to anything else happening in the country. They have now gone one step further with the unveiling of a player of the stature of Anjan Bista. And this does mean a whole lot to the team management. To add to that, this big of a signing at the very start looks to be a statement with a simple message, “We’re here to stay”.
And then came the auctions. Although slightly unorthodox in contrast to the other nine franchises, Jhapa FC seemed to have a plan, a different one from the rest. When their general secretary Sujan Gautam was holding the ... up for any player, it seemed like every single one of them had roots at the place the club name comes from, the Jhapa district of Nepal. The 'draw' rule at the auctions might have come at their disadvantage in the end, but they racked up four well-known Jhapali names in the game at the auctions; Utsav Rai, Dev Limbu, Nishan Khadka and Sesehang Aangdembe. Ritik Khadka is another exciting winger to keep eyes peeled out for.
In terms of defense, the tandem of Nishan Khadka and Kamal Shrestha appears to be solid. Foreign players are being sought by the club to bolster their defense and goalkeeping options.
Jhapa have furthermore made one thing clear, their primary goal is the development of football in Jhapa. Jhapa FC have planned a trial for a rookie signing for the upcoming season which is going to be held very soon according to the club spokesperson Gautam.
"The message should be clear that we are here for the development of football for Jhapa in a primary note", said Gautam. Being a franchise team might come to their disadvantage in the end but looking at the things they've planned and the way things are moving ahead, they will cross this 'franchise' barrier with ease and march on.
Jhapa has a team capable of winning the entire tournament in their first season. They have a chance to make an impact not only on the field but also off it. Their motto, "developing football in the east," is something that everyone can get behind. Aside from that, their vision of becoming a franchise rather than a Division club will be intriguing.
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