US denies visa to Tibetan women’s football team

Exile Tibetan women’s football team, in an undated file photo.

Exile Tibetan women’s football team, in an undated file photo. File photo/Hindustan Times

By Naresh K Thakur | Hindustan Times

ON THE WEB, 27 February 2017

Having made their mark in tournaments held across the Indian sub-continent, the Tibet Women’s Soccer team had heartbreak as the United States (US) Embassy denied a visa to the team members to travel to the country where they were to take part in the Dallas Cup.

The Tibetan women’s football (“soccer” in US) team was invited by former English football player and manager Gordon Harold Jago to the Dallas Cup, a famous friendly youth tournament having football stars like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney in the alumni list.

Trained by Cassie Childers, a US woman footballer from New Jersey, under the aegis of the Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA), the team debuted in the Gyalum Chemo Memorial Gold Cup in 2012, winning their first match 2-0.

Since then, the team has played in several tournaments across India as well as in the Discover Football event held in Germany in 2015.

Meanwhile, the exile women’s team has posted a video on social networking site Facebook expressing disappointment at being denied visa.

In the video, the disappointed team members are seen in their football jerseys while one of them is reading out a letter written to Harold Jago expressing gratitude for the invitation. The 2-minute footage was posted on Childers’ Facebook page on 25 February.

“We were looking forward to this trip from very first day, not because it was a visit to US but for it would have provided us an opportunity to represent our country Tibet to the world. We were really excited,” said the Tibetan woman player in the video.

“But the US Embassy rejected our visa stating that we don’t have any strong reason to go there. What reason could be bigger than that we are representing our country,” she added.

Coach Childers has also expressed her disappointment over the denial of the visa saying no proper explanation was given by the Embassy, despite the team members fulfilled all the requirements as per the US visa guidelines.

The 15-member football team had sought a ten-day tourist visa to visit US to attend the Dallas cup as guests.

“The ten-day trip would have seen the Tibetan team lead the opening day parade into the Cotton Bowl stadium carrying the Tibetan flag, and the honour of being the first sports team to represent Tibet on US soil,” wrote Childers on her Facebook page, adding that team was also to train with a university’s women’s team in Texas during their visit.

The team has requested the authorities at the Embassy to review the decision. A crowdfund sourcing platform has also been initiated to recover the visa fees and to replenish the fund-starved team.

“We have decided to keep going despite all of this. We will never give up and will arrange alternative tour, to some place where Tibetans are welcome,” coach Childers said.

Copyright © 2017 Hindustan Times Published in Hindustan Times Posted in News » Tags: , , ,