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Tibet may not be recognised as an independent nation, but it has a women’s football team. One based in India, no less. For decades, Tibetan refugees have called India home. The Tibetan Women’s Football Team has persisted against all odds – the odds of not having a nation, of not being recognized, and of living through tragic refugee conditions in India. An American woman named Cassie Childers helped found the Tibetan Women’s Football Team after realizing the country had a men’s team but not a women’s team.

Watch this video by 101 India on the inspiring young women.

Coached by Gompo Dorjee, a former member of the Tibetan Men’s Football team, these young girls want nothing more than the chance to represent their nation on an international stage. In a devastating setback, the team was denied visas to travel to the United States to play in the Dallas Cup – a football tournament where they would have been the first Tibetan people to represent their country under the Tibetan flag. They were told they had “no good reason” to visit the United States, even if it was under a 10-day tourist visa.

While the women were not competing in the April tournament since it’s for boys, they were supposed to lead the opening day procession into the Cotton Bowl Stadium under the Tibetan flag.

“I am disappointed because we had planned the trip for months. It was a big moment in every player’s life when they were told about the trip. It was their opportunity to tell the world that Tibetan women are capable of achieving anything,” said Cassie Childers to the BBC.

“Disgusted doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel. I am ashamed of my country. I am not proud to be an American… Today we spent $3,520 (half our yearly budget) for the privilege of being asked what position we played and told that WE HAVE NO GOOD REASON TO TRAVEL TO THE USA. That amount, combined with all the other expenses of travel, accommodation, etc, comes to nearly $5,000. Down. The. Drain.” Cassie Childers wrote movingly in a Generosity crowd-fund she had set up to replenish this amount.

In response, the Vancouver International Soccer Festival invited the team to travel to Canada to participate. The tournament begins tomorrow, on 6th July 2017, and the girls will make their international debut!

Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About The 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup

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