Dr Lobsang Sangay, President of CTA cuts the ribbon at the inauguration ceremony. Photo/CTA/Tenzin Jigme

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Dharamshala, India — The office for the Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA) was inaugurated under the health department by Dr Lobsang Sangay, president of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on February 2, 2021. He was joined by Health Minister Choekyong Wangchuk and Health Secretary Palden Dondhup, along with other members of the health department under CTA.

Being the Chief guest at the inauguration, Sikyong gave praise to the TNSA on their notable achievements. He acknowledged the long-standing relationship TNSA has had with the CTA. He said that TNSA members had been in touch with the CTA since 2015. With regards to funding requirements and future prospects for football events, and that they had accordingly received funding from the health department for football fields and other expenses incurred over the years.

Sikyong cited the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) tournament in London, as an example for when costs for visa application and flight tickets were paid by the CTA. Therefore, the decision to integrate the TNSA into the health department was brought upon by these funding issues and former appeals. The TNSA was allotted its annual budget under the health department in 2019. The political leader of CTA also went on to highlight the need for nurturing youth talents in achieving national and global recognition.

A brief address was also delivered by Health Kalon Choekyong Wangchuk, extending a warm welcome to TNSA and its integration into the Health Department. He also recognised Sikyong’s role in the decision process. He assured that the department will continue assisting the association, with all the necessary requirements. Coming to a conclusion, the health minister reminded the members of their responsibility to take the future of Tibetan sports forward and wished his staff success in their coming ventures.

A momentary background of the Tibetan sports system was shared by Tenzin Rinchen, executive director of TNSA. Talking about its establishment in 2002 by Kasur Jetsun Pema under TCV and its integration into the Health Department in 2019. And how in the end its office is moved in 2020. He went to explain that in its current state, TNSA consists of 3 committees: The first committee involves board members with Health Kalon as its Chairman, Health Secretary as its Executive Chair and 8 members who decide on the programmes to undertake each year and budget. The second committee has activity members that decide upon their responsibilities after taking into account the decisions of the board members, in their monthly meetings. The third committee is an international chapter of TNSA which comprises 5 members promoting the initiatives undertaken by TNSA.

He also talked about the Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup (GCMGC) football tournament, which is regarded as one of TNSA’s greatest achievements. With 25 tournaments conducted over the years, it remains one of the largest sporting events in the Tibetan exile community and has seen the men’s football team participate four times in international tournaments. Their agenda for this year is taking the women’s football team to the same international acclaim. The inauguration event came to an end with a signing of the TNSA jersey by Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay and group photo ops of the ceremony.