Dhangadhi Football Club signed national team midfielder Bishal Rai as the marquee player for the Nepal Super League.

Subash Shahi, President of GoDreamers, the owner of the franchise, exchanged the memorandum of understanding with the three-time Martyrs Memorial A Division League winner Rai at an announcement ceremony.

Rai, who did not disclose the amount of the marquee player, thanked the club for believing in him for the opening season of the franchise-based league. "We heard about the franchise-based league some two years ago but there was not any official move," said Rai, who made the national team debut in 2015.

"We are grateful to the NSL and All Nepal Football Association for initiating the tournament."

Rai said Dhangadhi FC officials convinced him to be the marquee player for the tournament. "I was convinced after the team officials said that they would form a strong team and the only target is to win the trophy," he said. "I decided to join the club after seeing the list of foreign players as they are the ones who are going to make a huge difference," he added.

Shahi, who initiated franchise-based teams and auction in cricket while organising the Dhangadhi Premier League, emphasised in team work. "It's not me who is doing everything in the Dhangadhi FC. We have a very good team and we can reach the target with collective efforts," added Shahi, who is also the President of Sudurpashchim Province Taekwondo Association. "I am associated with lots of sports and I believe there is nothing which cannot be done. We just need dedication and hard work."

Goodwill Ambassador of Dhangadhi FC and taekwondo ace Olympian Deepak Bista said the city of Dhangadhi had huge potential in sports sector. "We already have a lot of players from Dhangadhi who are associated with various clubs and teams," he said. "I know Subash Shahi is a good leader and under him the team can prosper, whichever sport it is," added Bista, the four-time South Asian Games gold medallist and two-time Asian Games bronze medal winner.

The inaugural edition of the NSL, organised by the Nepal Sports Event and Management Pvt Ltd, is beginning at the Dasharath Stadium on April 24.

The tournament features seven teams and the auction of players is scheduled for Friday.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.