By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, April 18: The Tibetan women’s soccer team will travel to Canada to take part in the Vancouver International Soccer Festival(VISF).
The Tibetan women’s soccer team, who were denied US visas to participate in Dallas Cup soccer tournament earlier in February, will now travel to Canada this summer to take part in in the VIFS which kicks off from July 7-9 later this year.
Cassie Childers, coach and executive director of Tibet Women’s Soccer Team made the announcement in one of her Facebook post.
“Our team will travel to Canada this summer to compete in the Vancouver International Soccer Festival! We have received visas and are ready to go! This makes the team the first Tibetan women’s team in any sport to compete internationally. Bhod gyalo!” an excited Childers said and added, “This is what happens when you Never Give Up!!!”
The multi-cultural soccer tournament features local, International, Homeless, First Nation, and multi-ethnic soccer teams.
The VISF offers a maximum of 32 spots for the tournament, 16 Spots for Women’s teams, and 16 spots for the Co-Ed. Men’s division has been abolished, effective this year.
Following the visa snub to the team by the US embassy back in February, Kelsang Dhondup, Executive Secretary of Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA) said, “Cassie Childers’ team is neither recognized by the TNSA nor by the Tibetan government-in-exile. Even though the players in her team are Tibetan, the team does not officially represent Tibet.”
With the emergence of two Tibetan women’s soccer teams, one each from the TNSA and Cassie Childers, the Tibetan women’s soccer team has become the bone of contention between TNSA and Cassie.
Cassie Childers is an American teacher and a lifelong soccer player who conceived the Tibetan Women’s Football Programme after attending an exhibition showcasing the history of Tibetan soccer.
Childers parted ways with TNSA and runs Tibet Women’s Soccer Team as a legal entity (NGO) with a board and has trademarked the name as well. Her team has participated in a tournament in Germany two years ago without any visa issues and also made it to the finals in a football tournament held in Goa last year.
“There is no team grouped by TNSA. They had a camp for schoolgirls once. As far as I know, there is only one women’s team in operation, and that is ours, ‘Tibet women’s soccer team’. We are a legal entity (NGO) with a board and all, and have trademarked the name,” Childers told Tibet Express last May in an interview.