As the world cup began in Russia on June 14th and the final game played scheduled for July 15th, Football fans from all over the world have thronged Russia with such enthusiasm and fanfare. 32 teams from 5 confederations are competing to win the world cup and the games are being hosted in 11 cities across Russia.
Tibet Culture and Information Center (Office of Tibet) in Moscow is hosting monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery to kick off series of “Thank you Russia” events with various cultural programs, exhibits and spiritual program across 6 cities in Russia. As the monks had just arrived in the capital of Russia at a time of so much excitement, they decided to join the Fan Zone Festivities at the grounds of the Moscow State University and celebrate Tibet with thousands of people from all over the world. Upon their entrance on the Fan Zone grounds, the monks were thronged with fans and supporters, not of football but fans of Tibet.
The monks held the Tibetan flag with pride and passion as they were there to support the forbidden team of Tibet and spread awareness about Tibet.
They gave interviews to media and many people were so eager to take photos with the maroon-robed monks. Many were eager to interreact and talk about the issue of Tibet. The volunteers who usually rushed to take photos with football stars were asking for group photos with the Tibetan monks and wanted to talk to them about Tibet.
Tibet’s National football team may not be competing in the 2018 world cup, but the seeds of Tibet’s National Football team have been planted with their participation in the CONIFA cup.
Although they failed to win the cup, they won the hearts of many spectators for their determination and for the cause they represented. Each Tibetan team member had a story to share, a story of struggle as a Tibetan, story of life in exile. As a refugee, they have come a long way to play in such international football to represent the people of Tibet. They had a heavy responsibility, not just to win a game but to be a representative of the voiceless. Being able to play in the CONIFA cup is already a seed for Tibetan National Football team and Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA).
Hopefully, someday, the World Cup will be held in Tibet. This is the prayer and aspiration of the Tashi Lhunpo monks and wishes the best to the many football fans who showed their solidarity.
-Filed by OOT Moscow-