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How Ladakh’s Ambition for Carbon Neutrality Takes Strike with Football

How did Ladakh take a strike for Carbon Neutrality?

At 11000 feet above sea level, Ladakh held the inaugural Climate Cup for the first time in September, for which four teams gathered. It was organized by the Ladakh Football Association (LFA), affiliated with the All India Football Federation, the national governing body of football in Ladakh. It was held from September 1 to 7, which saw the participation of four teams, the Delhi Football Club, One Ladakh FC, the Tibetan National Football Team, and the UT Ladakh team. It aims for carbon neutrality and to educate people about climate change and football.

What are the reasons for the organization of the Climate Cup?

The Climate Cup was organized for primarily two objectives:

  • To raise awareness about the urgent need to make climate change reforms. The climate in Ladakh has been going through significant changes, including increased rainfalls and melting glaciers. the

  • The tournament aimed to promote professional football among the youth of Ladakh and to provide them with‌ a platform to showcase their skills and talents.

What are some of the Sustainability Measures taken up?

The Climate Cup was held with a a major priority to the environment, and hence there were some sustainability measures taken during the tournament:

  • Recycled jerseys and caps: Players were provided with jerseys and caps made from recycled jerseys and thereby lowering the demand for new jerseys.

  • Organic refreshments: To promote sustainable agricultural practices, organic refreshments made from sustainable agricultural practices were offered to the participants.

  • Electric buses: Transportation of players was held in electric buses, which helped reduce emissions.

  • Reusable water bottles: For the reduction of plastic waste, aluminium water bottles were encouraged by the players and volunteers, which could be refilled from dispensers containing fresh spring water.

  • Traditional trophy: The winning cup was designed to honour Ladakh’s traditional wood carving art, which was later granted a Geographical Indication (GI Geographical Indications of Goods are industrial property aspects that indicate a country or location as the origin of a product) tag by the government.

What are the Factors contributing to Climate changes?

Ladakh faces climate change due to rising global temperatures and increased tourism. This has led to a reduction of snowfall, leading to more rainfall and flash floods in the hilly terrain. Recently, activist Sonam Wangchuck went on a five-day hunger strike to demand that Ladakh be brought under Schedule 6 of the Indian Constitution to safeguard the environment of the region and the rights of the indigenous people. Schedule 6 is for the administration of certain tribal areas as autonomous entities. Baichung Bhutia (former football player) and Ravinder Kumar (Secretary of Sports, UT Administration) also supported Ladakhis for the cause.

What are some of the challenges faced by the Climate Cup?

While the climate cup represents efforts, it faced some challenges as well which includes limited participation and unpopularity of the league. It can be associated with factors such as Ladakh’s geographical isolation, limited infrastructure and lower visibility in the national football landscape. The region’s altitude along with extreme temperature also presents a logistical challenge for the team.

What are the Future Plans of the climate cup?

The success of the Climate Cup has helped build international recognition and generated interest among other state teams. The Ladakh Football Association aims to expand the tournament in the future.

LFA's commitment to promoting Indian football aligns with broader efforts to raise the sport's profile in the country. Indian football has historically faced challenges in gaining recognition compared to cricket.

LFA is committed to promoting sustainability and seeking eco-friendly ways to accommodate growth and further organize a larger tournament in the future. By educating people about climate change and increasing public awareness of the issues, the Climate Cup hopes to achieve carbon neutrality.

Factors that may have led to not much awareness about the game?

There are some reasons why only a few players participated in the game. First, the goals and objectives may not have aligned with the long-term goals of the other players. The Climate Cup, being organised for the first time, may not receive the media coverage that other sporting events receive. Additionally, it may be the geographical location of the climate cup.

Football is not as famous as compared to other sports like cricket and badminton. There could be some of the reasons, like that it does not receive sufficient funding from the government and therefore lacks adequate infrastructure and equipment. Indian football players do not receive the same appreciation as players in other sports, lacking the confidence and support to participate in international events.


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