By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct 2: The much anticipated 26th Gyalyum Chemo Memorial Gold Cup (GCMGC) 2021 kicked off on Friday with the opening match played between host Dhondupling FC and Shimla United, the former losing the game 2 – 4. The Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA) will conduct the 12-day tournament among ten teams from India and Nepal divided into two groups of 5 teams each vying for the coveted cup.
“There are many firsts in this tournament, as you can see the authentic grass field for the matches, football field lights and we have also called professional referees from the I-League to oversee all the matches,” TNSA Executive Director Tenzin Rinchen said during the press statement. The winning team will win 1,50,000 rupees cash prize at the end of the tournament.
Due to the pandemic, the event was postponed twice from May last year but as the danger of the virus still looms, the organizing committee has taken measures including daily rapid tests for all the players, compulsory mask-wearing and sanitizers at three different entry gates. “We are taking proper measures to avoid any risk to the players during the tournament. We have received negative RT-PCR reports on their arrival, and will continue to take daily rapid tests during the tournament,” Rinchen told Phayul.
The first match was attended by around 500 spectators including the players and helpers. Most of the audience comprised of residents of Clement Town and many from the Dehradun area had also come to support their respective teams. However, the working committee in the settlement did not carry out RT-PCR checks for outsiders prior to the matches despite what the organizers assured a month ago.
The teams have been divided into two groups; ‘A’ pool comprises of teams Dhondupling FC, Shimla United, Dekyiling United, Sonamling FC (Ladakh), and Marchak FC (Kathmandu), whereas ‘B’ pool comprises of DYSA Mundgod, Delhi FC, RTYC Jalandhar, TCB Bir United and Poanta-Puruwala UNI. The live telecast of the matches will be aired through Tibet TV on Facebook.