GCMGC 2016 to be played in Toronto, TNSA and Cassie Childers clash over Tibetan women’s soccer team

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, May 21: Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA) in collaboration with Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC) will host the ‘Gyalyum Chemo Memorial Gold Cup’ (GCMGC) 2016 in Toronto, Executive Secretary of TNSA, Kalsang Dhondup announced at a press conference held on May 19 at Norbu House in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala.

Gyalyum Chemo Memorial Gold Cup is the biggest sporting event in the Tibetan Community and is played annually in the memory of the great mother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The tournament will be held in Toronto, Canada this year to commemorate His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Twelve teams from Europe and North America are participating in the tournament which kicks off from July 4 – 8, 2016.

TNSA Secretary Kalsang (centre) addressing the media.
TNSA Secretary Kalsang (centre) addressing the media.

At the same press conference TNSA Secretary Kalsang also announced that TNSA will host the inaugural Women’s Football Tournament at Upper TCV School in June, 2016.

The maiden Women’s Football Tournament scheduled from May 9-12, 2016 features teams comprising of Indians girls from Delhi, Amritsar and Nahan in Himachal Pradesh along with Tibetan women’s team.

However controversy erupted when two Tibetan women’s football team have surfaced – a team formed by TNSA , a sports organization recognized by the Central Tibetan Administration and another team formed by Cassie Childers, 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.

Her team made it to the final in a recently concluded women’s tournament in Goa.

The Tibetan women’s soccer team has now become the bone of contention between TNSA and Cassie. Tibet Express got in touch with both the parties and the responses from TNSA and Cassie Childers pertaining to the issue are as follows:

Emergence of two teams

Kalsang, TNSA Secretary said: “There are two teams, but ours is the one officially recognized by the Central Tibetan Administration. Cassie Childers (former coordinator of the Tibetan Women’s team) refused to accept the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) TNSA has proposed and has since been managing the other team which is legally unsupported and unrecognized.”

Cassie, the manager of Tibet women’s soccer said, “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.”

MOU proposed by TNSA

“I did not accept it because it was a clear setup designed to funnel money from the women’s side to the men’s side. I offered to negotiate the terms of the MoU but they refused to even discuss it, so I resigned. TNSA Secretary Kalsang told me on many occasions that I should give the funding to the men’s team. I explained on several occasions that it was impossible to give money raised for women’s empowerment to a men’s team. The funds received under the Rowell Fund grant were transferred into TNSA account in India and they were intended by International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) to be used for our winter 2015 camp but TNSA refused to use the funds properly and wouldn’t even purchase balls and cones. When I asked why they weren’t getting us proper equipments, I was told the money was being saved for the men’s team. That money was for the girls, and not for men,” Cassie said.

Cassie Childers
Cassie Childers

TNSA Secretary Kalsang said that that the MOU was proposed for better collaboration, to make TNSA and Cassie’s responsibilities as a coordinator clear regarding the Tibetan women’s football programme and to avoid problems in the future.

“We told her to handover the funds she received for women’s soccer to TNSA so that we can issue the funds as and when its required,” Kalsang said and added, “Cassies’s accusation that I told her that I intended to use the women’s fund to the men’s football programme is just a baseless accusation. Rowell Fund is yet to be released even now; expenses for the 2015 winter camp were covered by TNSA.”

About governing body

“Cassie wants to be in the governing body, but the FCRA rules governing the organization doesn’t allow the involvement of foreigners in the board. Education Minister Mr. Ngodup Tsering who possesses a foreign passport suffered the same fate,” said Kalsang TNSA Secretary

“I asked to be present at board meetings or to even become a member because no one is representing the girls or protecting the integrity of the program except for me. They are a total failure and inactive under the current leadership. Not because they are Tibetans. Because they are corrupt, sexist and frankly speaking incompetent. That was a big part of my motivation to break free from TNSA, because I didn’t want to see our hard work fall into pieces like that. Look at the men’s team, they are essentially inactive and no longer playing; their last match was in 2012 I think and before that in 2008. TNSA’s sudden renewed interest in girl’s football is purely a publicity stunt to defame me and our new NGO, and to regain some shred of their dignity after I ousted them,” Cassie said.

Gender issues

“I was told by TNSA board members (direct quotes) that football is important for boys, not for girls. Tibetan women have more rights than men. We don’t need a women’s team because all they care about is fashion and social media. TNSA wanted to take the right to play away from girls after they had already fallen in love with the game. Meanwhile boys had three age groups at each school! It wasn’t equal. When I suggested girls should have an equal number of age groups, TNSA got upset. All I have ever wanted was equal treatment for Tibetan boys and girls. I also encourage you to look up the BBC radio report ‘Soccer Nuns’ and listen to Kalsang’s quotes within. Finally, I suggest you to speak directly to the players themselves. They’ll tell you whom they want to play for and why.” Cassie said.

Cassie Childers with her Tibetan women's soccer team.
Cassie Childers with her Tibetan women’s soccer team.

“She is turning the issue into gender issue, which is absolutely baseless. Like other countries, Tibetan Women’s sport had a late beginning; look at the recently concluded FIFA women’s world cup there is a huge difference in the prize money between the men’s and women’s champions. If we don’t see women’s football as an important programme, why did we get in touch with her and started it in the first place. We give equal preference to both the men and women’s team; that’s why we have parallel programmes for both the gender,” Kalsang contends.

“In a BBC radio report- ‘Soccer nuns’ she accused us of the same, the correspondent, after meeting Education Director of TCV, was convinced that it wasn’t the case. He even asked me why Tibetan girls lied to him,” Kalsang further added.


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