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From Chandigarh shop, brothers create Tibetan Premier League

December 10, 2010

Tashi Lundup
Chandigarh:
Thu Dec 09 2010 (Indian Express)

The harsh North Indian winter is here and business is good at the garment store run by brothers Tashi and Nawang Dorje in Manimajra, on the outskirts of Chandigarh. But the sale of their woollen stocks could have been better if the Dorje brothers didn’t have to keep their customers waiting as they answered close to 30 phone calls a day, all about their other project — the Tibetan Premier League. As proclaimed on posters pasted outside Tibetan markets all over India, Tashi and his younger sibling Nawang are trying “to unite the people of Tibet through cricket”, via a tournament to be held in the last week of January next year. The response has been incredible. Tibetans from Delhi, Dehradun, Dharamsala and Chandigarh have already shown interest, while a few calls have come from states as far as Tamil Nadu in the south and Nagaland in the North-East. “When we came about this idea to unite Tibetans around India, cricket was the only vehicle in mind. The response has been overwhelming. I hope that the tournament is successful,” Tashi says. The concept is radical, to say the very least, as Tibetans aren’t known to be especially fond of cricket — preferring faster-paced sports such as football and basketball. But second-generation refugees were always the target audience that the Dorje siblings had in mind.

“We Tibetans are not really into cricket, but there’s nothing better than this sport to unite the people of our country,” says Nawang. “This will also give us a chance to put on display our hitting skills.” Born and raised in Himachal Pradesh, Tashi was an upcoming fast bowler before a dislocated shoulder put an end to his cricketing dreams. But nothing, not even having to bowl spin, will stop him from organising and participating in the TPL, he says.The brothers have managed to book the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Haryana, for the tournament. And all this, without the help of a cricket board or sponsors.“We did not seek help from any cricket association as we wanted to organise it on our own. We approached a few sponsors, but the idea was too radical for them. So we shelled out all the money from our pocket. Right from acquiring the stadium to the posters and advertisements, we did it all,” Tashi says.The yellow pamphlets with the Tibetan flag have been hard to miss. “As soon as I heard the news, I knew it was something different. Moreover, I was told that it was an effort to foster harmony among Tibetans residing in India. I told my friends too to enroll themselves for the tournament,” says Tenzin Gyatso, a student. But not all inquiries the Dorjes receive are about registering a cricket team. “Sometimes, people call to find out if this is an anti-China demonstration. Others have called to check if we are protesting against the entry of China into cricket after the Asian Games... All we want to do is host a peaceful, harmonious tournament, where Tibetans unite under the banner of a sport,” Tashi says. To attract more Tibetans to fill up the stands during the tournament, the brothers have sought the help of a spiritual head to grace the occasion, while adding cultural programmes, songs and dance for colour. So is there anything missing from their wishlist? “Yes, a sponsor. We want to make this an annual gathering, not a one-time affair.” Going by the response so far, they may not be pitching themselves too high.
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