By Tenzin Dharpo
GCMGC 2018 match in progress on April 1, 2018. photo- TNSA/ Kalsang Jigme
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 2: The exile Tibetan community’s leading sports fixture, the 2018 edition of the Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup (GCMGC) football tournament remembering the late mother of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama is underway since Saturday in Southern India’s Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement since Saturday.
The 24th edition of the tournament held in the most populous Tibetan exile settlement, Lugsam Samdupling in Karnataka is played at the newly built football ground of the home team, TDL football club.
18 teams take part in the ongoing tournament with new entrants like Sonamling team from Ladakh and Kothagiri team from Tamil Nadu in contention. Regulars and past champions such as the most decorated team in the history of the tournament Dhondupling FC as well as other strong contingents such as the Gangtok FC, TSAM FC and Goa FC have also made to the tournament team list.
Other teams such as the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education team, Rabling FC, CFC Tibet team, Victory FC, and GFC teams from Samyeling Delhi, Deckyiling, Doeguling, Kollegal settlement, have also brought teams. One team each from Nepal and Canada and one school team from TCV are also vying for the coveted Gold Cup.
Last year’s emphatic champions Himalayan FC has given a miss to the tournament this year although many of its players feature in team sheet of participating teams in the current tournament.
The tournament is currently in its group stages with 9 matches played as of today with 12 more matches to be played until April 6, after which the knock out stage begins. The final match of the tournament is scheduled on April 10.
The Tibetan National Sports Association is gearing up for the CONIFA world cup in June this year with the Tibetan National football team participating in it. Selectors are watching every game for prospective players for the squad though an initial list has already been prepared. The team participated in the Governor’s Cup in Gangtok last year losing out narrowly against Mohun Bagan FC, one of India’s leading football clubs.