An environmental revolution is brewing in Ladakh and at the forefront of it is the sport of football. Global warming has impacted the Union Territory adversely with the locals facing water scarcity and a lack of vegetation.
Amid such circumstances, the region is getting ready for its first professional club – 1 Ladakh FC.
Naturally, the football club which was launched in the joint capital of Leh last week has put environmental goals at its heart. Additionally, it also aims to provide a platform for the local talent to harness their skill and make football a career in the region.
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“This will be a great message through sports in Ladakh and across India and beyond on how we can protect our climate. And this is the need of the time. For me, I will start with Ladakh first. This is my region and hopefully, others will also pick it up. I am responsible for my homeland and my environment,” Tsering Angmo, Director at 1 Ladakh FC, told Firstpost about the positive impact the club intends to make.
The club wants to become Net Zero Carbon by 2025 and for that, it will be taking a host of actions like using eco-friendly kits, non-plastic reusable water bottles and cycling to the training ground.
In their endeavour to be the “cleanest, most sustainable and happiest club”, 1 Ladakh FC players will be wearing dry-dyed jerseys made by Danish sportswear company Hummel. They will have to cycle down to the training ground and use non-plastic reusable bottles.
Ladakh’s football landscape
The sport is growing at a neck break pace in the region. Ladakh Football Association was founded only in 2019 as the region became a Union Territory. The Association was granted affiliation by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in February 2022 and has 33 approved clubs and 245 players registered with it.
“Football has always been popular here. Before getting AIFF affiliation, local clubs participated in Spituk Kushok Bakula Rinpoche (KBR) Football Champion League. We also used to have the ITC Sunfeast tournament. We had over 35 clubs participating but they weren’t registered. Now we have 33 local clubs which are officially registered under Ladakh FA,” shares Angmo who is also the founding member and general secretary of Ladakh FA.
Ladakh’s first participation at the national level came last year in the U-17 National Women’s Football Championship. They made their Santosh Trophy debut in December last year and made headlines by securing a 2-2 draw against Uttarakhand. The most notable achievement came this month with a 3-1 win over Jammu & Kashmir in the 27th National Women’s Football Championship.
1 Ladakh FC’s footballing ambitions
Boosted by the recent growth and achievements, 1 Ladakh FC owners have wide-ranging on-field ambitions in mind. Tourism for a long has been the main source of income for the Union Territory but 1 Ladakh FC wants to make football also a source of regular income besides allowing the local talent to grow and boost the footballing culture in the region.
“We have talent here but they cannot make a career out of football because of lack of opportunities. Now we want to give them a platform and contracts so that they can focus on making a career in football,” adds Angmo.