Kiban Rai: The Nepalese talent leaving his mark inWales football signs his first professional contact

Teenager Kiban Rai has become the first player of a Nepalese heritage to get a professional contract  in English football league. Rai, 18 has signed a deal with Newport Country AFC of EFL-2.

He is an attacking midfielder and qualifies to play for Nepal through his parents. He wants today's  announcement to inspire people in Nepal and also in the town of Brecon and Wales where he was born.

The first Nepalese origin male player to sign an English football contract

Kiben Rai, a young player of Nepalese origin who is emerging in the domestic league of Wales football (EFL), has signed a commercial contract with Newportcountry AFC club for the upcoming 2023/24 season. Attacking midfielder Kiban Rai is the first Nepalese player to sign a professional contract with an English Football League (EFL) club. The 18-year-old Kiban, who made four appearances for the senior team last season at the Newport Country Football Academy, won the hearts of many Welsh and English supporters through his attacking style.

Kiban Rai: The rising star in the football of New South Wales

Kiban, who is moving forward with the aim of identifying himself as a rising football star in Wales' domestic football, was also honored with Newportcountry AFC's Young Player Of the season and outstanding contribution award last season. After the contract with Newport, Rai spoke to Sky Sports and said that his contract will encourage young players of Nepalese origin and Nepal. 

What type of club is Newportcountry AFC?

Newport plays in England's FA Cup and League-2. League-2 is a professional league in England's fourth division. 24 clubs are competing in League-2 for the year 2023-24. After being promoted from League-2, it is possible to compete in League-1. Similarly, from League-1, they will reach the league championship of the second division. By being promoted from the championship, the clubs will reach the prestigious English Premier League of world football.

Who is Kiban Rai?

Kiben Rai is the youngest child of Kazi Rai and Indra Rai who are from Dharan in East Nepal. He has two sisters above him. As the youngest child of his parents who have been living in Brecon, Wales for a long time, Kiban was borned and raised there. 

Kiban Rai's football journey: from a local club in Brecon to EFL-2

Early football journey: At the early age Kiban started playing football with a local club named Brecon Corries in his home town. After passing through Brecon, Kiban attended Merthyr's academy in South Wales and played U-14. At that time, he used to take football training with PFA, a professional football academy in the world's leading football academy. By being a part of the same PFA academy's Asian inclusive mentoring scheme, Kiban stepped into the age group of Newport Country. In which he was also successful.

Kiban's Introduction to Newport Country senior team

Kiban trained under James Rowberry in pre-season this year with Newport's first senior team. There he caught the attention of senior team manager Graham Coughlan. Seeing Kiban's playing style and attitude, Coughlan gave him a place in the senior team. Newport took 9 players from their academy to the senior team with a 2-year scholarship for the 2021/22 season. Kiban was one of them.

Kiban's journey to Newport Country in brief:
  • Brecon Corinthians AFC
  • Merthyr Town FC Academy
  • Newport Country U-16
  • Newport Country U-18
  • Newport Country AFC

Newport Country AFC in EFL-2

Newport country Football club is the club of the fourth lowest division of the English Football League (EFL) system. There is a provision that a total of 4 teams from the playoffs between the 4th to 7th place teams including the top 3 teams in the league will be promoted to EFL div 1, while the bottom 2 teams will be relegated. Then from EFL league 1 through EFL Championship, the teams play the prestigious English Premier League.

Newport country AFC, which has been playing continuously in EFL 2 since 2012-13, is one of the two teams in the history of the league that has been in the league for the longest time without relegation. Since then, the recently completed 2022/23 season has also finished in 15th place, and Newport is still in EFL 2.

Kiban's game, discipline and attitude, who can play in the role of left winger and creative midfield at any time, are loved by football fans in the News South Wales region. Due to his playing skills, the young talent Kiban was also awarded with the Young Player Of the season and outstanding contribution award of Newport Country AFC this season. Newport, which is preparing to bring Kiban to the main role in the upcoming season, has extended the contact of Kiban until 2023-24, which ended this June.

Kiban's signal to play for Nepal ?

Kiban, who has been identifying himself as a Nepali in the club, openly reflects his nationality even in the interviews he gives. If the Nepali government brings the provision of dual citizenship i.e. Diaspora Visa for the players, the arrival of hundreds of players like Kiben who are doing well in Europe and other footballing countries, Nepali football can take a leap in a short time.

Whether it is 2018 world champion France or 2022 Qatar World Cup, especially Morocco, most of the countries in Europe have established themselves as football superpowers by having provisions for dual citizenship.

Watch Kiben Rai's journey in Wales football here:

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