US again denies visas to Tibetan women’s soccer team

DHARAMSALA, August, 22: The US Embassy in New Delhi has yet again denied visa to the Tibetan Women’s National Soccer Team as they seek to take part in the Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup(GCMGC) 2018 in New York and New Jersey.

After members of the Tibetan women’s soccer team had their visa request declined in February last year by the US Embassy officials in New Delhi to take part in the Dallas Cup soccer tournament, the team’s visa request was reportedly denied again earlier this month to take part in the GCMGC to be held in the US.

Following the snub by the US Embassy in February last year, Adri Hamael, the founder of Vancouver International Soccer Festival(VISF) not just invited the team but also severed ties with Canada Soccer and B.C. Soccer Association as they objected to the Tibetan Women’s team with unprecedented demands to the VISF organizers.

However, this year, along with the US, Canada has also turned down the visa application of the team earlier this month.

“The Tibetan Women’s National Soccer Team’s visa applications to the US and Canada were turned down by the respective embassies in New Delhi,” Pasang Dhondup, Executive Secretary of Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA) told Tibet Express.

Tibet Women’s Soccer with 16 Tibetan girls were trained from the beginning of this year by TNSA and has planned matches in Chicago, Madison, New York, and D.C. in the US and Toronto in Canada.

The Executive Secretary of the TNSA, however, promised to persist and reapply for the visa and thanked everyone who has supported and worked hard to make the arrangements for the team.

The Tibetan women’s soccer team was the bone of contention in the past between TNSA and 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.

Childers parted ways with TNSA and led the Tibet Women’s Soccer Team for several years before she announced that Tibet Women’s Soccer led by her had come to an end on a Facebook post dated Oct 27, last year.

While TNSA, the only sports authority recognized by the exiled Tibetan administration maintained that even though the players in Cassie Childers’ team are Tibetan, the team does not officially represent Tibet as her team is neither recognized by TNSA nor by the Central Tibetan administration. Childers on the other hand maintains that there is no team grouped by TNSA and the team led by her is the only women’s team in operation with a legal entity (NGO).

“Just as we achieved our biggest accomplishment, certain powers within the Tibetan community have stepped up their game to prevent us from proceeding further,” Childers said in her parting shot on a Facebook post.

“Of the 16 players in the TNSA’s Tibetan women’s soccer team selected from camps, 6 of them have previously played under Childers,” Pasang Dhondup said and added that while Cassie announced the end of her Tibet Women’s Soccer Team last year, she has not handed over the funds to any Tibetan organization. Childers, in her parting shot, said she will now be working with the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA).

The Executive Secretary of the TNSA claims that has tried to contact and meet her when he traveled with the Tibetan men’s team that took part in the CONIFA World Football Cup 2018 in London but to no avail.

Though Childers said that the remainder of funds of Tibet Women’s Soccer will be used to expand their scholarship program, not much is known about how much fund she has raised for the Tibet Women’s Soccer team and how much has remained.

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