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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Football: Lhasa United vs The Marmots

July 2, 2010

Claude Arpi
www.claudearpi.blogspot.com
June 30, 2010

In continuation with my post of yesterday on
football in Tibet, I post today some abstracts of Chapman's notes.

While in Tibet, Freddie Spencer Chapman, the
Private Secretary of Sir Basil Gould, the
Political Officer in Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet
kept the British Mission Diary (he also took some
of the earliest pictures of Roof of the World).

An entry on November 9th 1936 mentions: "First
round of seven-a-side football. It was
uncomfortably hot playing. Every day now the
temperature rises well above 60 [degrees] F. but
at night there are ten to fifteen degrees of
frost" (Lhasa Mission, 1936: Diary of Events',
Part IX p. 1, written by Chapman).

On an other occasion, Chapman recounts: "Today we
were challenged to a game of 'Soccer' by Lhasa
United, a team picked from Tibetan, Ladaki
(Mohammedan) and Nepalese sides. They turned out
in garish Harlequin-coloured shirts. After a
good, clean, hard game the Mission Marmots (as we
call ourselves) won by scoring the only goal of
the day. The goal was so small that the only hope
of scoring was to go through oneself with the
ball. Playing at 11,800 feet is not as much of an
ordeal as one would imagine, and we appeared to
be no more breathless than our opponents. We now
practice nearly every day and are thinking of
picking up a number of seven-a-side teams to keep ourselves in training".

The British Mission team was known as the
Marmots: "The Mission Marmots was the name given
to the 1936 British Mission football team. The
Mission established this team to play against
various local groups (including "Lhasa United")
on a pitch behind the Norbhu Lingka. No goal was
ever conceded by the British perhaps because they
wore army field boots – prompting a request from
the Ladakhis that the British should refrain from
“wearing those fearful boots”. The football
season came to an abrupt end when someone stole
the goal posts to use for firewood and sandstorms
became frequent. Team members Back row from left
to right: Sonam, ?, Minghu. Middle row from left
to right: Spencer Chapman, Dagg, Morgan, Nepean.
Bottom row unidentified Tibetans. The lack of
names for some of the Tibetan players in this
photograph may be explained by the fact that only
Norbhu (the Mission translator) was able to tell
who was who amongst the Tibetan servants to the Mission.

Chapman describes this match against Lhasa United
in October 1936: "Together with a crowd of
supporters, our opponents were already there,
turned out in garish harlequin-coloured silk
shirts with L.U. sewn on to the pockets. They
were a remarkable looking team, and certainly
needed to be "United"! There was a tough looking
Nepali soldier, a Chinese tailor, three bearded
Ladakhis wearing red fezes – the most hirsute
being the goalkeeper, a Sikkimese clerk of
Pangda-Tsang’s, and five Tibetan officials,
including our friends Yuto, Surkang-Se, and
Taring Dzongpon. The latter still had their
charm-boxes on top of their heads, so were precluded from heading the ball”.

Another entry in Chapman’s dairy: "Today we were
challenged to a game of 'Soccer' by Lhasa United,
a team picked from Tibetan, Ladaki (Mohammedan)
and Nepalese sides. They turned out in garish
Harlequin-coloured shirts. After a good, clean,
hard game the Mission Marmots (as we call
ourselves) won by scoring the only goal of the
day. The goal was so small that the only hope of
scoring was to go through oneself with the ball.
Playing at 11,800 feet is not as much of an
ordeal as one would imagine, and we appeared to
be no more breathless than our opponents. We now
practice nearly every day and are thinking of
picking up a number of seven-a-side teams to keep ourselves in training".
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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