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China Daily Global / 2021-06 / 11 / Page016

Tibetan girls show talent in court of dreams

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-11 00:00

LHASA-For 17-year-old Tibetan girl Cigla, playing basketball at an elevation of more than 3,000 meters is as easy as her idol LeBron James nailing an iconic slam dunk.

Cigla is a freshman student at Nagchu No 2 Senior High School in Lhasa, capital of Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, which is located at 3,650 meters above sea level. She now plays point guard for the school's 12-member female basketball team.

"Practice makes perfect. You get used to the elevation when you love the sport and train hard enough," says the budding basketball star, who has been passionate about the sport since taking it up three years ago.

Cigla wears wristbands, with the names of her idols LeBron James and Kobe Bryant written on them, when playing her favorite sport. With her outstanding speed, agility and accurate passes, she never fails to shine on the basketball court, even when she faces off against the boys.

Though she is more than two years away from high school graduation, Cigla already has a clear picture of her future-entering a sports college to major in basketball. In the eyes of Cigla, who hails from a poor herder's family in northern Tibet's Nagchu, studying in Lhasa, the region's most developed city, has made it much easier for her to realize her basketball dream.

With an average altitude of over 4,500 meters, Nagchu is among the most uninhabitable places in Tibet, known as the "roof of the world". A low-oxygen environment and extreme weather have long compromised the health of Nagchu students, hampering the development of primary education in the area.

In a bid to ensure equal access to quality education, the Tibet regional government has established several schools in Lhasa since the early 2000s to recruit Nagchu students, including Nagchu No 2 Senior High School.

Like Cigla, many students at the school are from impoverished farmers' and herders' families.

"The students had barely played any sports before coming to our school due to limited sports facilities and frequent bad weather in Nagchu," says Bachug, the school's PE teacher and coach of the school basketball team.

In contrast, the school campus in Lhasa, with seven concrete basketball courts, a standard soccer field and a sports stadium, gives students opportunities to train their bodies and find the sport that appeals to them, he says.

Basketball has been a popular choice among the girls at the school. Currently, more than a quarter of the approximately 1,600 female students regularly practice the sport during PE classes or as extracurricular activities, according to Bachug.

Basketball contests between classes are also held regularly to attract more girls to participate in the sport.

Dawa Droma, a senior student also on the school's female basketball team, says her passion for the sport started from her first basketball game in her freshman year.

"I had never touched a basketball before that game but joined the class team anyway. When I scored and heard my classmates cheer for me, I couldn't feel more proud. That's how I fell in love with basketball and never looked back," she recalls.

Reflecting on the influence of basketball on her life, Dawa Droma says the sport has helped her get fit and build up confidence over the years.

She says she hoped to do well in the upcoming national college entrance examination to get into Beijing Sport University, her dream school, to carry on her connection with basketball.


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