Kathmandu, June 17
Sabitra Bhandari is regarded as one of the best woman footballer not only in Nepal but also in the South Asian region.
She has reached to the second position in all-time highest scorers list and has already proved her credentials after shining in the Indian Women’s League with Sethu FC.
Women’s national team head coach Hari Khadka, who himself is the former men’s national team skipper and joint highest scorer, one described Bhandari, popularly known as Samba, as the backbone of the squad. “She is definitely the best footballer in region and she has every potential to go beyond South Asia,” said Khadka about Bhandari during the Women’s SAFF Championship in Biratnagar earlier this year.
Although Nepal finished as runners-up to five-time champions India in Biratnagar, Bhandari was able to score in all four matches, including the final. Born in remote village of Lamjung where the sport was not meant for women, Bhandari was able to beat all odds to become a successful footballer and take her to the place where she always wanted to be.
Bhandari made her national team debut in 2014 and she never looked back. She was replaced for the first time during Nepal’s match against Bhutan in the Women’s SAFF Championship and coach Khadka did so “to save her energy for remaining matches.” She has already scored 30 goals in 28 matches, moving to the second position behind leader Ganga Gurung, who is at the top with 35 goals. And she has won almost all domestic tournament titles with the Nepal APF Club.
Her performance in the pitch and popularity off the field has earned her nomination in the People’s Choice category of the NSJF Pulsar Sports Award, in association with Action Sports and Powered by GoldStar.
She is in race with cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane, badminton player Prince Dahal, volleyball star Rashmi Bhandari and bodybuilder Maheshwor Maharjan. The winner will be decided by SMS votes along with Facebook likes and votes of head coaches of national sports associations and the members of the Nepal Sports Journalists Forum, the organiser of the award. THT LIVE 37722 is the official voting partner of the award.
The 16th edition of the Pulsar Sports Award, in association with Action Sports and powered by Gold Star, features 10 categories and the winners of male, female, coach and people’s choice will receive Pulsar NS160 motorcycle each. The youth, para-athlete, special, lifetime achievement, team of the year and Asian journalist winners will get Rs 50,000 apiece.
NSJF has already signed the title sponsorship agreement with Hansraj Hulaschand and Company Limited — the authorised distributor of Pulsar motorcycles in Nepal, while National Sports Council, Nepal Olympic Committee, Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, Kelme Nepal, Avenues Khabar, Royal Singi Hotel, Timex and Emaging are the co-sponsors and partners of the programme.
A version of this article appears in print on June 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.