By Tenzin Dharpo
The team in Goa, May 2016/file
DHARAMSHALA, FEB. 26: A Tibetan women’s football team in exile which was to participate in a friendly football tournament in the US has been denied visa with their much anticipated trip hanging in limbo. Tibetan girl players dressed in football jerseys stood outside the US Consulate in New Delhi on Saturday and expressed their disappointment in a video posted on Facebook.
The team though not recognized by the apex football body of the exile Tibetan community, the TNSA (Tibetan National Sports Association), is a well respected and admired team having represented Tibet in the Indian sub-continent as well as in Germany in the past.
The Tibetan women’s team managed by Cassie Childers, their American director, has expressed her disappointment over the denial of the visa saying no proper explanation was given by the embassy, despite having produced all necessary documentation and fulfilling all requirements that were asked in the mandatory regulation by US visa guidelines.
Childers who divides her time being a realtor and the Executive Director at Tibet’s Women’s Soccer clearly sounded dejected after the development on her Facebook page, “The Embassy of the United States of America REJECTED simple ten-day tourist visas for the first Tibetan women’s soccer team to attend the Dallas Cup as VIP guests. Everything was filed properly. All the invitations were in order. The conditions were perfect. The only explanation given: ‘YOU HAVE NO GOOD REASON TO TRAVEL TO THE USA’”.
The Tibetan women’s team was invited by well known football player and manager Gordon Harold Jago, to Dallas Cup, one of the most important friendly youth tournaments in the world with alumni list boasting the likes of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.
Screengrab from the Facebook video posted on Saturday, moments after their visa application was turned down
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 honor of being the first sports team of any sex to represent Tibet on US soil, Cassie wrote. The team was also to train with a university’s women’s team in Texas during their visit.
Childers lamented that the itinerary she had painstakingly planned months ahead with tournament organizers in the US as well as the hefty visa application fee for the whole squad amounting to 5000 USD have gone “down the drain”.
“Yes, there are way worse tragedies in life, and these young women have lived through most of it. Being ripped away from their country, their families, and sent to live in rough conditions in a foreign place was way worse. Walking for 28 days in fake Chinese tennis shoes over the HIMALAYAS under the cover of darkness, at the age of 8, was much harder. This trip was going to be the best damn thing to ever happen to these girls. Ten days of fun, doing something meaningful for their country and their families back in Tibet, and being treated like they’ve always deserved to be treated – that was the whole point. The US had an opportunity to play host to one of the most inspiring groups of young women on this planet today. The United States of America failed today. Utterly, “Childers lamented.
The team has since called on the authorities to reverse the decision, seeking support for their plight. In addition, a crowd fund sourcing platform to recover the visa fee to replenish the fund –stricken Tibetan Women’s football team that had an existence akin to living “between the rock and a hard place” since their tumultuous beginning has been initiated.