The Abbot at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in India during the summer of 1998 has his bags packed. Even though he is the head of this religious institution, he's attached to the dream of returning to his beloved homeland that is occupied by the Chinese. The Abbot happily receives the brother and the younger son of a woman who has sent them from Tibet to get a Buddhist education as monks.
Although every attempt has been made to keep everyone's attention focused on tradition at the monastery, the modern world has intruded on the consciousness of several young monks. Orgyen (Jamyang Lodro) and his best friend Lodo (Neten Chokling) are obsessed with soccer and secretly sneak off to watch a televised game. These two are seen as troublemakers by Geko (Orgyen Tobgyal), the Abbot's right hand man and chief disciplinarian.
When the two young monks learn that the champion World Cup soccer game between Brazil and France is going to be broadcast, they ask for permission to rent a satellite dish. Much to their surprise, they get the go-ahead, and their adventure to arrange for the big evening gets underway.
The Cup is the first feature film made in Bhutan. Its writer and director Khyentse Norbu is a prominent lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition who served as spiritual advisor to Bernardo Bertolucci on the set of Little Buddha. Inspired by true events, this endearing drama is a playful parable about loving others and giving up one's attachments. Buddhist monasteries are workshops for monks to help reduce clinging. The Abbot and Geko are both teachers and students of this process. So are the young soccer fans. Orgyen, who is almost fanatical about the game, sets up a heartbreak in one of the new Tibetan monks while he is desperately pursuing his goal. Through this experience, he learns that compassion, the softening of the heart, is the most important spiritual practice.