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Tibet: They are playing basketball on the roof of the world and the game is bringing a big change

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Tibet, Dec 20: Tibet is a place about which not much is known easily. It's a place with serious political restrictions. Anybody trying to sneak into the state of affairs in the Tibetan way of life invariably comes under the angry glare of the Chinese rulers.

Tibet: They are playing basketball on the roof of the world and the game is bringing a big change

However, one thing about the Tibetans has come to the knowledge of the outer world and it is about their passion about basketball. According to a report by Pulitzer Center, Washington "an unlikely group of nomads, Buddhist monks, and yak-wool artisans could be changing the region's future-through basketball".

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Zorge Ritoma, an isolated village in northeastern Tibet is home to a newly formed semi-professional basketball programme called the Norlha Textiles. The team's coach is Bill Johnson, a man of almost seven foot height who is an MIT graduate and former pro player. Johnson, according to the report, is determined to find the most dedicated and talented players from the plateau area, including bruising monks, and bring them to Ritoma to join the basketball squad.

"At the center of Johnson's vision is one of the most promising young players in the Tibetan highlands: a 24-year-old sheep and yak herder named Dugya Bum. Like so many young Tibetan men at a time of rapid urbanization, increased contact with the outside world, and a vanishing nomadic way of life, Dugya Bum as a teenager had quit school and lacked purpose. But since the establishment of the Norlha program, enabling Dugya Bum to realize his dream of being paid to play the game he loves, Dugya Bum's life has been filled with meaning and hope," the report said.

Even the women's lives are changing

And the story doesn't end here either. Even for the women of the village, it's a life-changing experience. They also have formed a team with Johnson as the coach and for these women who are from nomadic background and have otherwise little diversity in their lives, basketball offers a rare opportunity to engage in social interaction that improves their self-esteem.

The cornered region of Tibet hopes that one day, basketball will bring an even bigger and consequential change in its way of life.

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