Tibet aims high, seeks pro soccer status

At a rundown stadium in Lhasa in the Tibet autonomous region, a small group of fans watched two teams battle it out in an amateur soccer match that lacked neither intensity nor thrills.

Fullback Losang Tashi charged up and down the field, making deft passes and intelligent runs, with the occasional tackle thrown in for good measure.

"I definitely will give it my all in that game," the 29-year-old schoolteacher said before the weekend match. "I once dreamed that I would represent Tibet at the national level someday, and that desire has never died in me."

Losang has been playing nonleague soccer since he graduated from college. He is a member of the Lhasa Pureland Football Club, which is made up of about 20 players, though the number varies at games because of their amateur status. They play in league games sponsored by local authorities and the China Amateur Football League.

The club has a doctor but there is no dressing room at the stadium. Still, both the local authorities and the soccer club harbor much bigger ambitions.

According to a plan issued by the Tibet regional government recently on soccer and basketball development, more investment is set to be pumped into the two sports. No specific amount was set.

"The long-term goal is for there to be widespread public participation in soccer and basketball after 2026," said Losang Dorje, an official with the competitive sports division

(China Daily USA 12/08/2016 page5)