By Lobsang Wangyal
ANTWERPEN, Belgium, 19 July 2019
The Yak Boyz United from Paris won the Euro-Tibet Cup 2019, beating Tibet-Züri 3-0 to take away the trophy and the cash prize of €4,000 in the finals played in the Belgian city of Antwerpen.
With favourable weather for football, the final match was started off by singing the Tibetan national anthem led by Loten Namling, followed by maintaining a minute’s silence for those Tibetans who sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause.
A football skills demonstration was given by Gianduja Gigi, a Belgian A team footsal player.
Quick passes from the forward players of the Yak Boyz gave Tenzin Thardoe the chance which he didn’t miss to score the first goal in the 43rd minute.
A possible equaliser was missed in the 60th minute in the second half of the game when the Parisian goalkeeper saved a penalty shootout from Zurich striker Samkar. Soon after a second goal came from Tenzin Lekdup after Züri goalkeeper Tensang moved forward to parry the ball away which proved a costly blunder for Zurich team, as that gave the opponent’s striker an easy chance to score.
The third goal for the Yak Boyz came from Tenzin Tsetan through a header off-corner kick in the 85th minute.
Olog Kelsang from United Tibet Bern FC was the highest scorer with 19 goals. He received a cash prize of 250 euros.
“We Yak Boyz play with unity and love for this game,” said captain Tenzin Lekdup. “Our motto is ‘pain is temporary, glory is forever’.”
Played for over five days, the 11th edition of the tournament had 19 teams participating, with France seven teams, Belgium five, Switzerland three, Holland two, Germany one, and Austria one, taking part in the European championship cup for Tibetans.
The Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Belgium has been organising the Euro-Tibet Cup tournament since 2008. President of the organisation Sonam Tsering said, “The tournament was a great success. We’re very grateful for all the players for showing great spirit of sportsmanship, and the amazing support from many people in Antwerpen and other places.
“We saw better quality games this time around, and bigger support from the people. We are confident that we will be able to organise an even better tournament next year.”
Tsering said that it is an important event that bring Tibetans from various European countries together. “We see Tibetans come together in show of unity, and promote our youngsters in their talents.”
The entire five days of the game was broadcast live, with commentary in Tibetan. The referees were all non-Tibetans to keep the matches out of any controversies.
However, talk of organising a European Gyalyum Chemo Memorial (GCM) Cup has confused some of the organisers of the tournament. “We don’t understand why the Tibetan National Sports Association wants to organise a second tournament in Europe when there’s already one going on here successfully for the last 11 years,” said one of the organisers who didn’t want to be named.
“If they choose to organise one, it’s their choice, but we don’t see the need. They could support the one that’s already going on successfully.”
As it is during this tournament that brings people of Europe together, organisers and many people feel that it’s like their Losar (the Tibetan New Year), which is the biggest Tibetan holidays celebrated for days, mostly in February. There’s no such big event for people to get to gather here during Losar.
“It’s during the Euro-Tibet Cup that we meet old friends that we usually don’t meet even though we live here [in Antwerpen]. We also get to meet other people from other European countries,” said one of the spectators.
On the other side of the playground was space for social activites. A giant Tibetan national flag and a portrait of the Dalai Lama were prominently displayed. Stalls had various Tibetan and Indian food, and jewellery. The end of each day’s play saw the popular Tibetan circle dance called gorshey.
One of the regular visitors Nyima Dhondup, the manager and coach of Tibet-Züri team, was all praise for the tournament. “It is very satisfying to see the tournament is giving value to sport and the spirit of sportsmanship. Tibetans generally don’t give much attention to sports.
“These kind of events inspire the youngsters to keep fit and give more attention to their health. It also promotes friendship and nationalism among the youngsters.”
Although Tibet-Züri lost the match, Dhondup was happy to see two good teams played in the final and ended cordially without any issues.
He explained that the team is bigger than just football. “We organise many other events to help the Tibetan community in various activities such as education. We funded the flight tickets for Team Tibet from India to go to London last year to play a match there.”
There are no official records of the number of Tibetans living in European countries, but about 5,000 Tibetans are believed to be in Belgium today. Tibetans who got their asylum request in the country refused moved to France, where an estimated figure is 8,000 Tibetans.