NPR

Tibet's Soccer Dream: Playing In The Alternate World Cup

The tournament in London, wrapping up on Saturday, brings together 16 teams from nations, ethnic minorities and regions not part of the World Cup's geography.
Tibet's team met the London Turkish All-Stars at a CONIFA World Cup match this week. Final score: London Turkish All-Stars 4, Tibet 0. Source: Sam Mellish

The first time he touched a football, Gelek Wangchuk was 9 years old.

It was in a settlement of Tibetan refugees in Himachal Pradesh, in northern India, where he and other Tibetan boys attended the Tibetan Children's Village, a school founded by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

"I didn't know how to play, I didn't have any [football] kit. But I had a lot of interest," said Wangchuk, now 26. "I started playing football only for enjoyment without any shoes."

Wangchuk became good — so good that he is

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