Home > News > Tibet > Economy & Society >

Tibetan team hoping for its 1st American football victory
update:July 08,2024
Every Monday evening, just before 7 pm, Kelsang Lhundrup begins to close up his coffee shop in Lhasa, capital of the Xizang autonomous region, even though the summer sun still has a couple of hours before it sets.

The 25-year-old isn't just a cafe owner; he's also a passionate member of Xizang's only amateur American football team, and for the past two years, Monday nights have been dedicated to practice.

The sport was both familiar and alien to the young man. During college, Kelsang Lhundrup discovered it through the movie The Blind Side. Michael Oher's story struck a chord with him, igniting a desire to play American football, even though he didn't have the chance at the time.

"American football always seemed so cool and thrilling, but no one around me played, and there were hardly any games when I was in school," he recalls.

Upon graduating and returning to his hometown, he learned through a friend that there was an American football team in Lhasa. After watching a few practices, he couldn't resist joining. Despite their makeshift training grounds and challenging conditions, the team's passion for the sport was unshaken.

In June 2023, Kelsang Lhundrup and his teammates traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan province, to compete in the China National Football League, one of the country's top amateur leagues for American football. It was their debut game and they faced a crushing defeat, losing 60-0. "It was our first game, and we realized the gap between us and the other teams. But our goal was to enjoy the game and learn from the experienced teams," he says.

Back in Lhasa, the team intensified training, driven by the loss. Three months later, they returned to Chengdu for another game, this time against the runner-up from the previous year.

Kelsang Lhundrup and his team held off fierce first-half attacks with solid defense. Although they lost again and Kelsang Lhundrup was seriously injured, the team knew they had made significant progress.

"American football was never just a sport. It was a way to prove ourselves to the world," Kelsang Lhundrup says.

As he recovered, his coffee shop became a place of solace. He has named it Huddle, inspired by the term in American football.

"I hope my coffeehouse will bring young people in Lhasa who have dreams and passions together to enjoy coffee and life," he explains.

The young Tibetan man finds peace in his coffeehouse and releases stress on the American football field. "It has changed me. I used to be quite introverted, but the sport has made me braver and more outgoing," Kelsang Lhundrup says.

Now, the only American football team in Xizang has grown, expanding from its seven initial members to 56.

Kelsang Lhundrup and his team are determined to aim for their first victory. "Our goal is to win the first game for Xizang's American football team and to spread American football culture to the young generation here," he says confidently.

  • Former thangka painter turns childhood courtyard into trendy cafe in Lhasa
  • Nepal expects increase trade with China's Xizang autonomous region
  • Xizang forum seeks harmony between humans and nature

Sponsor:China Society for Human Rights Studies
Copyright by China Intercontinental Communication Co., Ltd All Rights Reserved.