Tibetans take field for 'New Year Cup'

Villagers gather for annual high-altitude soccer tournament in Xizang autonomous region

China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-08 10:36
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Players stage a soccer game in Mali village in Lhorong county in Chamdo city, Xizang autonomous region, on Jan 21 during the annual "New Year Cup" tournament. SUN FEI/XINHUA

In the small village of Mali in Lhorong county in Chamdo city, Xizang autonomous region, the 7th annual "New Year Cup" soccer tournament was staged last month on a makeshift pitch about 3,700 meters above sea level.

"Though it's still dusty, it's a lot better than before," said Karma Chophel, a Mali villager.

A decade ago, the soccer field was nothing but a desolate field strewn with rocks. Back then, Karma Chophel, who was a high school student, took it upon himself to organize local children who loved playing soccer to level the ground and set up makeshift goalposts with wooden sticks, laying the foundation for what would become the village's soccer field.

Karma Chophel, who graduated from Xizang Minzu University with a sports degree, is now a physical education teacher at the local primary school. With an increasing number of children showing interest in soccer and parents hoping for a proper playing field, Karma Chophel, now a father himself, led the effort to renovate the field and organize soccer matches.

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