Scoring 24 goals in the 2021 BoB Bhutan Premier League, Paro FC striker Yeshi Dorji has become one of the country’s top professional league scorers.
The 19-year-old national team forward from Trongsa is known for his speed, endurance, tactics and hard work on the pitch.
From 2014, he played for the Under-16 team of Druk Stars FC for three years under coach Kota Namgay. Then, from 2018 to 2019, he played for Ugyen Academy FC and recently joined Paro FC in 2020.
In six years, he participated in many national and international matches.
As an attacking midfielder, Yeshi was one of the key players at the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal, where Bhutan won a silver medal in the U-23 soccer competition.
He made his international debut against Guam in the World Cup qualifiers in June 2019 and became the only footballer in the country to play for the Under-18s, Under-19s, Under-23s and the senior national team in 149 days.
To Paro FC’s credit, Yeshi said he was more motivated than ever after becoming the top scorer this season. “Paro FC is a good club. The club pays players a salary even during the offseason, which does not happen in other clubs.
He said that thanks to football he could help his single mom and siblings. “My late father was passionate about football and he motivated me to play the game.”
Yeshi said that it is important to dream big in order to achieve goals. “My dream is to become a professional footballer. People will say both good and bad about you, but we have to believe in ourselves.
Like most Bhutanese footballers, Yeshi Dorji aspires to play in other countries as well.
In January 2020, he signed a contract with a German football agency, TF Sports, and had a successful try with German sixth division club VfB Fichte Bielefeld.
After meeting the club’s organizer online, he requested the trial.
He was set to become the first Bhutanese to play in Europe, but had to return home due to a visa issue and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t have a work visa and had to come back,” Yeshi Dorji said, adding that traveling to Europe was not easy. “I spent about 200,000 Nu to make it happen.”
This year he received an offer to play in Cyprus for a second division club as a striker, but had to turn it down.
Meanwhile, Yeshi Dorji is a freshman at Royal Thimphu College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. He joined college in August.
He said he could not be granted leave to play in Bhutan’s Premier League this season. “I made sacrifices to play for Paro FC. I have to recover from the lack of attendance now.
Yeshi said he wanted to lead by example and show that young people can study and also play football. “Most of the national players do not continue their studies. I want to show that we can do it differently, with good time management.
He said most domestic players end up moving to Australia after their footballing careers. “I don’t want the same to happen to me. I have business plans. I want to stay in Bhutan to create opportunities for young people.
Regarding the difficulty in obtaining opportunities to play in the Asian region, Yeshi said football is still developing in the region. “Due to a limited foreign quota, regional clubs recruit players mainly from developed countries to improve their teams.”
He said football would improve further in Bhutan with more infrastructure and international exposure.
Edited by Tashi Dema