DHARAMSALA, May 18: Blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with the best wishes of the President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Dr Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan national football team is all set for a mission in London with lots of positivity.
The Tibetan National Sports Association’s (TNSA) Executive Secretary, Passang Dorjee announced the 23-man squad (15 Tibetans from India and Nepal and 2 each from US, Canada, Europe and England) for CONIFA World Cup 2018 at a press conference held at the Kashag Secretariat hall in Gangchen Kyishong yesterday.
“The participation of the Tibetan national team in this tournament is not only a historic moment but will renew interest in the game among Tibetan youth and help raise awareness about Tibet through the agency of sports,” Passang Dorjee said.
Team Tibet will depart from Dharamsala today for the CONIFA World Cup and make their debut on May 31 in the opening match of the tournament against the defending champion Abkhazia from group B. The tournament will kick off with the opening matches of all the groups at 12 pm local time in London.
Though a daunting task lays ahead, Team Tibet received the perfect parting gift from the spiritual and the political head of the Tibetan people from the exile headquarters.
The Dalai Lama blessed the team and reminded them to uphold the Tibetan customs and traditions and coyly told the players not to resort to playing matches at day and fighting at nights after drinking.
President Sangay, whose administration has offered the team a fund of Fifteen Lakh rupees to cover their expenses, also attended the press conference along with the Health Minister from his cabinet and lauded the team and supporting staff in his address.
President Sangay further described Tibetan national team’s participation in the tournament as a proud moment for every Tibetan and concluded by saying that it sends a strong message whatever the result may be.
The Tibetan National Football team earned its berth to the CONIFA World Football Cup 2018 through a wild card entry.
The CONIFA World Cup is an international football tournament organized by Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) for football federation of states, minorities, stateless peoples and regions unaffiliated with FIFA.
CONIFA is an association which represents 330 million stateless or minority people. It has listed 103 national teams outside FIFA.
Though Tibet was ranked by the CONIFA at 30 with 945 points when it was offered the wild card entry for the tournament, the team’s good run at the 37th Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup tournament in Sikkim last year where they gave eight-time Champion of the tournament Mohun Bagan AC a run for their money has seen them climb up few rankings as it was ranked 13th in CONIFA’s latest ranking (dated: 01.01.2018).
TNSA was established under the Indian Societies Act XXI in Dharamsala, India and it governs the Tibetan National Football Team. Team Tibet made its international debut on June 30, 2001, in Denmark in a match against Greenland. The match ended with a score line of 4-1 in Greenland’s favour.
Tibetan National team has also competed in several international football tournaments and matches in the past like the 2006 FIFI Wild Cup in Hamburg, Germany and International Tournament of Peoples, Cultures and Tribes in France in June 2013.
The worst and the best moments of the Tibetan national team took place in the International Tournament of Peoples, Cultures and Tribes in France where the team registered its biggest win and the defeat. While the team bettered Saharawi by 12 goals to 2, Provence downed Tibet by 22- 0.
The third edition of the biennial tournament will kick off from May 31 to June 9, 2018. (click for full fixture) Along with the Tibetan team, fifteen other teams across four continents will take part in the tournament.
Founded on June 7, 2013, CONIFA organized the first World Football Cup in June 2014 in Ostersund, Sweden.