Prabhatpheri in last-leg preparation for ‘A’ Division Futsal LeagueThe Tokha-based side will open their campaign against Sports Castle on Saturday.
Prabhatpheri Youth Club, who qualified for the finals of 'A' Division National Football League without having their own futsal court, are in the last phase of preparation for the tournament set to begin in Pokhara on Saturday.
The Tokha-based team will open their campaign taking on the host city's Sports Castle on Saturday. They qualified for the finals as one of the four semi-finalists from Bagmati Province.
Though Prabhatpheri qualified for the finals of the League in their very first attempt after their formation, the team composed of locals from Tokha, Kathmandu, had been playing together for the last four years. They decided to formally register the club after the football governing body All Nepal Football Association issued a notice for an open qualifier.
Following the qualifiers in April, the finals were postponed twice owing to the Covid-19 pandemic providing participating teams enough time to prepare.
"Though we came into existence as Prabhatpheri only before the qualifiers in April, we had been playing together for the last four years. The players have good understanding of each other and bonding as a team," said Mani Kumar Gurung, the vice president of the club. "I think we qualified for the finals because of the unity and understanding between the members."
Sudip Panta, president and one of the players of the club, said their ambition is to make a top four finish in the finals. "We registered the Club with a long term vision. If we do not perform well, there is always a relegation threat hovering over us," said Panta.
Similar to other teams, it will be a challenge for Prabhatpheri to compete on the mat surface as they are used to an artificial turf. The number of futsal courts meeting the international standard in the country could be counted in fingers.
All of the 'A' Division futsal clubs in the country have been playing on artificial turf for a long time. And with the view to prepare the team for finals, three teams including Prabhatpheri have been training at parkated court of Manang Trust in Swayambhu on a single day.
"As we will be playing on the standard mat surface for the first time in the finals, it will be really difficult for us and other participating teams too. If we get one training session on the mat in Pokhara, it would be really helpful," said Gurung.
The club also plans to have its own futsal court and put it to multipurpose use—for the team’s own training and to let others use it on lease, according to Gurung.
Only three players of the team are from futsal background while the remaining ones come from football. Gurung is of the view that ANFA must come up with strict rules for this matter.
"Almost all clubs have been enrolling football players to strengthen their teams. But ANFA must come up with strict rules not to allow football players in futsal. Because such things may hamper players' development," he said.
The 10 teams vying in the finals will play in the round robin format. The teams winning top four positions will play qualifiers and eliminators for a place in the final.
The winners of the tournament will take home Rs1 million while the runners-up will get half the amount. The best goalkeeper, fixo (defender), pivot (forward), emerging player and best coach of the tournament will receive Rs25,000 each.
All matches of the finals will be telecast on Kantipur Television and the digital platform ekantipur.com. Turnpike Events Private Limited holds the marketing promotion and management responsibility for the tournament.