The Tibet Women’s Soccer Team will compete at the 2017 Vancouver International Soccer Festival as special guests and as ambassadors of peace. (photo from One Team United)
One Team United for Peace and Development Society recently announced that the Tibet women’s soccer team will compete at the 2017 Vancouver International Soccer Festival (VISF) as special guests and ambassadors of peace. This is the first Tibetan women’s team of any sport to compete internationally.
The Canadian embassy in New Delhi, India, has granted the team travel visas to Vancouver for the 13th annual festival, which takes place June 30 to July 12. The team of 15 Tibetan women welcomed the successful invitation following the Feb. 24 disappointment when they were denied tourist visas by the U.S. embassy in New Delhi to attend the Dallas Cup in Texas.
After a video of the young athletes reading a letter in front of the embassy asking for help went viral, politicians, athletes, attorneys and human rights advocates around the world reached out to the team and urged for a reversal of the decision. The story appeared on many television and radio programs and in various newspapers in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, the decision to deny entry remained firm.
“At Vancouver’s One Team United for Peace and Development Society and the VISF, we believe that soccer has an incredible power which can be used to build bridges between cultures, strengthen communities, create long-lasting friendships and bring our global community closer together,” said Adri Hamael, founder and executive director of the society and its showcase VISF event. “Our invitation to the Tibet women’s soccer team is extended in the spirit of this mandate. I am deeply touched by the team’s inspiring story. As a father of a little girl, for me it is about affording girls and women the opportunity to compete and be treated as equals.”
The Tibet team will be co-sponsored by VISF 2017 and the One Team society. Among the supporters of the team’s visit is Simpson Thomas & Associates. Jewish community member Bernie Simpson is on One Team United’s board of advisors.
“My friendship with Bernie started years ago,” Hamael told the Independent. “I am a Palestinian Canadian, Bernie is Jewish, however, Bernie and I share a common goal: to help others and create a better world…. Many speak about making a difference, few dedicate their lives and resources to making it a reality – my friend Bernie is one of the few.”
In addition to competing in the soccer tournament July 7-9, the women’s team will participate in friendly matches with local soccer teams and will be invited to enjoy the many cultural and sightseeing opportunities Vancouver has to offer.
During the team’s stay in Vancouver, they will be working with Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame inductee Andrea Neil. A pioneer of women’s soccer in Canada, Neil spent 20 years with the national team as a player and assistant coach. Currently, she works in the Vancouver area with former men’s national team player Nick Dasovic at Dasovic-Neil Coaching, where they provide individualized soccer programming and training to elite athletes.
For more information, visit oneteamunited.ca.