Lhasa soccer team hopes to succeed from on high
Updated: 2015-09-12 08:25
By Palden Nyima and Da Qiong in Lhasa(China Daily)
A professional soccer team being formed in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, is aiming to hit the heights - literally.
The city has applied for a field to be set up at an altitude of 3,658 meters.
But the players face the daunting fact that in 2009, the Argentine team led by global superstar Lionel Messi endured a 6-1 thrashing against Bolivia in La Paz at an altitude of 3,650 meters.
Ji Weishi, general manager of Lhasa Jingtu Men's Football Club, which is putting the team together, said, "The majority of players will come from the region, although we also plan to recruit professional players nationwide."
The 42-year-old said the club plans to recruit at least 23 players, and this has already started. "We have received more than 200 applications from across the country," Ji said.
The club believes Tibetan players have the potential to play on the plateau as it is their home and they will find it easier to play at altitude.
The team will play in the national league, but opponents are unlikely to relish playing in Lhasa because of the altitude.
Tsetan Dorje, president of the club, said it has sent a proposal to the China Football Association to recommend a head coach for the team. Locals will be recommended as assistant coaches.
The region had a professional soccer team in the early 1960s. It reached its peak in the 1980s before declining in the 1990s when China launched professional league matches. The team was disbanded in 1995.
The region also has a professional basketball team that has played in the National Basketball League for the past two months.
The Jingtu basketball court at the Lhasa Cultural and Sports Center is the world's highest at 3,658 meters.
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(China Daily 09/12/2015 page1)
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