Footballer Samba hopes to win popular awardBhandari, the winner of the women player of the year in the last edition (2075 BS) of the award, was among the nominees for the female player of the year for 2073 and 2074 award ceremonies.
National women football team star striker Sabitra Bhandari, who loves her nickname Samba, has regularly featured in the past few years at the annual NSJF Pulsar Sports Award. Her regular entry in the country’s most prestigious sports award is a reflection of her impressive performance on the ground.
The 24-year old is one of the five nominees for the Peoples' Choice category of the annual NSJF Pulsar Sports Award 2076 set to take place on January 12. Bhandari, who finished runner up in the same category of the award last season, is nominated along with national volleyball captain Aruna Shai, basketball captain Sadina Shrestha, swimmer Gaurika Singh and karateka Manday Kaji Shrestha.
The winners among them will be decided on the basis of eSewa votes, Facebook likes and votes from chief coaches of sports associations and the members of organiser Nepal Sports Journalists Forum. The winner will get a Pulsar motorbike in reward in addition to gift hampers.
Bhandari, the winner of the women player of the year in the last edition (2075 BS) of the award, was among the nominees for the female player of the year for 2073 and 2074 award ceremonies. And it was all possible because of her outstanding performance and Samba style of play having Brazilian flavour.
After her nomination for the peoples' choice award, second year in a row, was announced on December 19, Bhandari exclaimed, "I got a second chance when people rarely get selected for the category of Sports Award."
The one thing that always pinches her as a footballer is Nepal's inability to win international gold. Nepal hosted the football game of the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) last year in Pokhara. Bhandari's ambition was to win first SAG football gold at the home turf but they stumbled in the finals. It is not that Nepal have never ever defeated India, but they have been losing against the arch-rivals at decisive games.
Bhandari arguably is No 1 woman striker of the South Asian region. Apart from Nepali coaches, Bangladesh women's football team coach Golam Robbani Choton has heaped praise on Bhandari as the top striker of the region.
She has also proved her quality and worth in Indian Women's League in the past two seasons. She became the highest scorer of the league in the last season when she played for Gokulam Kerala FC. She also scored a decisive goal in the final. In the 2018/19 season too, she played an influential role in Sethu FC’s run to title in the same tournament.
In the domestic events, she played an influential role in Nepal APF Club's run to title at the eighth National Games and the Chief of Army Staff Cup, among others, last year. She is also the highest scorer for Nepal with 38 goals under her kitty.
But despite her individual marks, Bhandari will not be satisfied until her team wins major international silverware. As of now, the SAFF Women's Championship and SAG are the only realistic stages where Nepal seems close to title. But India has been Nepal's hurdle on almost all occasions.
"We can't be happy unless we beat India in the final of sub-continental events and we are capable of that. But for this we need love, support and motivation," said Bhandari.