Many of the players are in exile and are represented by the Tibetan Government in Exile. The team is part of neither FIFA nor the AFC and does not participate in international tournaments. The TNFA was founded in 2001 and its goal is to gain an official status.
The first international game the team played was against Greenland, which took place in Denmark. The team was followed by a documentary film crew, during the process of forming the team, practices, the match, and everything in between. The documentary was named 'The Forbidden Team'. To form the team, a selective tournament was held in Dehradun, India. It featured all the various Tibetan football teams around India.
After the team was selected, Team Tibet headed to Dharamsala to begin their practice sessions where Jens Espense was hired by the Tibetan Football Association to coach the team for the match. He had only a month to get them conditioned and ready to play and the players were not even at a minor league level. Moreover, the pitch was in horrible condition and only half of it could be used as it was located on a public road. During practice, Karma Nyodup was working to get all documentation done for the flight to Greenland. Numbers of players were soon dropped due to improper travel documents.
After a month had passed, the team flew to Denmark for their first international game, which was organized by Michael Nybrandt. He was also advocating Tibet when the Chinese government raised their cause for concern. China did not want this match to happen as they believed Tibet belonged to China. It threatened to cut off all its trade with Denmark if the match went on as planned. Denmark however, did not back down and allowed the game to take place. On 30 June 2001 the Tibetan National Football Team played its first international match where it lost 1-4 against Greenland.
FIFI Wild Cup (Hamburg, Germany) and ELF Cup (Northern Cyprus)
The 2006 FIFI Wild Cup took place in Hamburg, Germany. The first match they played was against St. Pauli on 30 May 2006. They lost this game 7-0. The second and final match of Tibet in this tournament was against Gibraltar on 31 May 2006. They lost this game 5-0. During the ELF Cup Tibet did not win any games and they suffered their biggest defeat. The first game was against Tajikistan on 19 November 2006 where they lost 3-0. On 20 November, Tibet played the Crimean Tatars, which they lost 1-0. Finally on 21 November the biggest loss came when Tibet played Northern Cyprus, who beat them 10-0.
Activities of the Tibetan National Football Association
The Tibetan National Football Association was founded in 2001, soon after the authorization was delivered by the Kashag (the Tibet Cabinet), and registration under Indian law.Jetsun Pema, the sister of the 14th Dalai Lama is the president of the association, Thupten Dorjee the secretary, and Kalsang Dhondup the executive secretary. The association is now organizing the Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup GCMGC football tournament which existed already in the 80's. In 2003, the 17th Karmapa was the chief guest on the first day of the tournament which took place at the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala. Mr. Shrikant Baldi, Deputy Commissioner of Kangra, was the chief guest in 2004 for the tournament. The 13th GCMGC, took place in 2007, and the chief guest was Khenchen Menling Tri Rinpoche of Mendroling Monastery. The 14th took place in 2008, and the chief guest was Khyabje Ling Rinpoche