Tamil Guardian went to catch up with Tamileelam's UK football players joined by players from Germany and France who arrived on Tuesday. Their teammates from Canada, Italy and Switzerland are expected later this week.
The team welcomes many new faces this year, including a number of professional footballers that have played in the German and Italian football leagues.
Goalkeeper Antoni Nagalingam who has been living in the UK for five years was previously a player in the Sri Lankan premier league and played for the Sri Lankan national team. Antoni also played for and captained the original Tamil Eelam team in Vanni between 2001 and 2003. When asked about his experiences in playing both in Colombo and in Kilinochchi, Antoni said that the two were completely different due to racism in the Sri Lankan premier league, meaning Tamil players were rarely given opportunities to advance.
We asked the players about their expectations for the upcoming Tynwald Hill tournament in the Isle of Man. Kathiravan 'Kutty' Uthayanan from the UK said that he expected "a high level of football" and looked forward to a "new team dynamic, where the players push each other to achieve more".
German player Gvinthan Navaneethakrshnan, on holiday from FC Germania Friedrichstal, said that forming the team for the VIVA world cup last year was a step in the right direction, and he hoped that this year's team would build on and improve upon last year's performance.
We also managed to get an exclusive look at French player Ronsan Vallipuram modelling the Tamil Eelam fan shirt!
The players are here to play in the Tynwald Hill International Football Tournament. Stay tuned for more interviews of the team and coverage of their journey in the UK.