The football-crazed world gears up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting from June to July in Russia. For Tibetans and its supporters, it’s a euphoric moment as Tibetan National Football Team is one of the 16 qualified teams to play at the upcoming 2018 CONIFA World Cup. The tournament is being hosted by Barawa and is scheduled to start from 31st May and will go on till 9th June 2018 in London. The CONIFA World Cup is for states, stateless, minorities and regions unaffiliated with FIFA.
Dating back to history, football was introduced in Tibet when a first ever football match was played between the British and Indian missionary soldiers in Gyantse in Tibet in the year 1913. Subsequently, ‘Lhasa United’ team was formed and a match was played between the British Military team in 1936. Since then, football was widely played in Tibet until the Chinese occupation of the country that leads to the mass exodus of Tibetans to escape to India.
In 1981, after coming to exile in India, a first club level tournament called ‘the Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup (GCMGC)’ was set to play at a Tibetan school in India. The Cup was honored in the name of the late mother of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
In 1998, the first ever Tibetan national level team was formed when the Tibetan Children’s Village acknowledged the invitation to play football in Italy from an Italian rock music group ‘Dinamorock’.
In 2001, the Danish Tibetan Cultural Group invited the Tibetan national team to play against Greenland. Since then, the Tibetan national team has played many matches, globally.
Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA) was formed in 2002. It was the brainchild of Ms Jetsun Pema (younger sister of His Holiness), the then director of Tibetan Children’s Village. It was her initiative to promote the sports in general and football in particular among Tibetan youth and to make difference in Tibetan struggle and culture through initiating football matches.
The Tibetan national team players are selected by the members of Tibetan National Sports Association.
Screenshots of reactions by netizens following Tibetan national team’s meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the TNSA Press Conference at Kashag Secretariat before their departure to take part at the 2018 CONIFA WORLD CUP.