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9 - ‘Playing for the Tibetan People’: Football and History in the High Himalayas

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Alex McKay
Affiliation:
University College London
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Summary

When not engaged on some work they play games, but not for money which is not their custom; he who loses sends for ciang and they all drink together. Their games are archery, or shooting at a target with a musket, at both they are exceedingly expert. At other times they play with heavy stones as we do in Europe with quoits. I do not know of any other game in Thibet, and these are only indulged in for exercise.

An Account of Tibet: the Travels of Ippolito Desideri of Pistolia S.J., 1712–1727, edited by Filippo de Filippi, Routledge and Sons, London, 1932, pp.188–89

Football, the State and the Stateless in the Modern High Himalayas

It was with those few words that the Jesuit missionary Ippolito Desideri filed the first sports report from Tibet early in the 18th century. Nearly three hundred years later a delighted striker for the exile Tibetan football team, Tenzin Dargyal, was quoted as saying that despite their 4-1 defeat by Greenland ‘I have never been so happy in my life’. His team had actually gained an early lead when Lobsang Norbu had scored in the 11th minute of the game. But Tenzin emphasised that ‘We're not playing for winning or losing. We're playing for the Tibetan people’ (www.friends-of-tibet.org.nz/news/july_2001).

Type
Chapter
Information
Subaltern Sports
Politics and Sport in South Asia
, pp. 191 - 204
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2005

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