Gangtok: In an attempt to promote homegrown football talents, the former players of Sikkim, collectively under the banner of Football Development Private Limited (FDPL) launched the Sikkim Premier League on Monday.

The curtain raiser event and game was declared open by Chief Minister at Paljor Stadium.

The franchise-based football league is being sponsored by Sikkim Urja Limited, a hydropower project in the state in collaboration with the State Sports and Youth Affairs department.

The inaugural match was a Gangtok derby between Sikkim Aakraman Sporting Club and Sikkim Dragons Football Club under floodlights.

Sikkim Aakraman SC opened their season with a 2-1 win.

The first half of the match ended goalless, but in the second half, Mayal Dok Lepcha scored the lead for Sikkim Aakraman SC and after some time his teammate Dewashish Rai doubled the lead for the team. Sikkim Dragons tried to bounce back into the match with the help of a goal by Ritesh Biswakarma in the additional time of the second half but it was not enough when the referee blew the final whistle of the match.

Eight teams from all six districts will be participating in the league stretched over three and a half months to be played at two venues: Paljor Stadium in Gangtok and Bhaichung Stadium in Namchi with the motto #TogetherForSikkimFootball.

The participating teams are Sikkim Aakraman Sporting Club and Dragons FC from Gangtok district, Siniolchu Football Club and Red Panda FC from Namchi district, Thunderbolt North United FC from Mangan district, Brother’s FC from Gyalshing distict, Singling FC from Soreng district and Roaring Leopard FC from Pakyong district.

The final is scheduled to be played on April 2 with prize money of Rs 15 lakh to the champion, Rs 8 lakh to runners up and Rs 2.5 lakh each to semi finalists.

The opening ceremony at Paljor Stadium had performances by Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champ Season 9 winner singer Jetshen Dohna Lama, MTV Hustle 2.0 finalist rapper Ugen Namgyal Bhutia [UNB], Voice of Nepal Season 4 top 10 finalist Rewash Gurung, and popular artist from Nepal, Raju Lama with his band Mongolian Heart.

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