East Turkistan v West Papua match report

There is an old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and East Turkistan began their international footballing journey on the front foot on Saturday afternoon with a comprehensive 8-2 victory against West Papua at the Sportpark Nieuw Hanenberg in the Dutch city of The Hague.

Although East Turkistan’s squad are drawn from a pool of players based in nine countries across the globe, both teams are essentially based in The Netherlands, so it made sense for the fixture to be organised at the home of HVCV Quick, a team with its own proud footballing history – it has one national championship and four KNVB Bekers to its name.

Right from the off, East Turkistan were in control, and although they missed a couple of good chances early on – Ripkat Bilal hitting the post when yards clear inside the penalty-area being the most glaring – Ihtiyar Yusupov’s delightfully-curled free-kick in the eighth minute beat West Papua keeper Romano Kandhai at his left-hand post to put them in front and score his team’s first-ever international goal.


Bilal missed another three chances in the next three minutes, the worst of which was when he put Alisher Tashmetov’s cross over the bar from three yards out, and he and East Turkistan were made to pay after 20 minutes when Rudy Gell de la Cruz burst past two defenders in the penalty-area and rifled the ball past Ablet Shemshi to equalise superbly.

At the other end, East Turkistan’s Abdushukur was having his own personal battle with Kandhai, who saved two of his efforts, and it was Kandhai, who, together with the Turkistanians’ profligacy in front of goal, was keeping his side on level terms. But, Abdushukur put his side in front on the half-hour, beating a defender inside the box and slotted the ball into Kandhai’s bottom right-hand corner. It was 3-1 after 36 minutes, Salaydin Tursun strolling into the penalty-area and slotting the ball inder Kandhai.

Three became four three minutes later, when Bilal finally got his goal, being in the right place at the right time to hook the ball into the roof of the net after Ilham Seleyev’s corner came back off the crossbar. Alisher Tashmetov almost made it 5-1, but his rasping shot from the edge of the box flew just wide of Kandhai’s right-hand post. Tashmetov made amends just before the break when he picked up a loose ball on the left, ran on unopposed and unleashed a shot from twenty yards out which flew past the keeper and into the net.

Kandhai started his second half by superbly keeping out a header from the East Turkistan number 6, who entered the fray at half-time, his flying one-handed save being the pick of his many stops of the afternoon. Another couple of chances were missed before East Turkistan finally made it 6-1 on 62 minutes; a corner-kick from the left-hand side made its way to Abduryin on the far side, who swung his boot at the ball from 18 yards out, and it bounced through the defence and beat the hapless Kandhai.

A rash of substitutes, and an awful miss from the Turkistanian number 6, followed before East Turkistan scored their seventh through Yusupov, who beat Kandhai with a forceful shot from a central position just inside the area with an quarter of an hour still to play.

East Turkistan’s substitute was not having the best of days after coming on at half-time, and he missed three golden chances to further increase his side’s lead, the first before Yusupov’s goal, when he outstripped the West Papua defence but shot woefully wide from ten yards out. Then, he did all the hard work himself, winning the ball and running into the area before he ballooned the ball wide with only Kandhai to beat, and he then slammed the ball over the bar and out of the ground when, again, unmarked and in a good position on the right-hand side of the box.

An eighth goal for the Turkistanians did eventually come with four minutes to go, and it was perhaps the only blot on Kandhai’s otherwise impressive stint in goal. Spotting Kandhai well off his line, Elzat Kader let fly with an opportunist shot from the centre-circle which beat the backpedalling goalkeeper, struck the underside of the bar and flew into the back of the net.

West Papua had been playing well for the last ten minutes or so, despite conceding Kader’s goal, and they were rewarded for their persistence with two minutes left after Samuel Taria broke into the penalty-area and gently rolled the ball past East Turkistan goalkeeper Shemshi and into the bottom corner.

It was a brave performance from West Papua, but there was a gulf in class between the two teams, which was perhaps unsurprising as a number of the team do not play football on a regular basis. There is much work to be done, but the will and enthusiasm is there, and improvement will surely come in the next few years. East Turkistan greatly impressed West Papua’s representative Simon Sapopier, who, in spite of the result, hailed the game as a fantastic experience for his side and a springboard for future development and improvement.

On the other hand, it was the perfect introduction to international football for the East Turkistan side, who had been preparing for this day since the ETFA’s inception earlier this year; two of the squad play professionally, whilst the rest of the team play football on a regular basis, and the difference showed. Acting manager Elshat Eslam was delighted with his team’s performance, saying that his team, substitutes included, came together and played as a unit, and played really well. Few who watched the game on Sarurday would disagree.

EAST TURKISTAN: 22 Ablet SHEMSHI, 5 Ilyas ABITOV, 6 Khalid YUSUPOV, 7 Ilham SELEYEV, 8 Alisher TASHMETOV, 9 Ripkat BILAL, 10 Ihtiyar YUSUPOV, 11 Abdushukur ABDURYIN, 14 Elzat KADER, 19 Salaydin TURSUN, 20 Anwar ISMAILOV


WEST PAPUA: 1 Romano KANDHAI, 2 Stephanus SAPIOPOR, 3 Sebastian BAME, 4 Waikuma PENTURY, 7 Bep GEIST, 8 Miguel Laatveld, 9 Colin SCINTJE, 10 Samuel TARIA, 11 Kila TUILARLA, 12 Rudy GELL DE LA CRUZ, 23 Ahmad ALITAKOM


Saint Pierre and Miquelon to build a ground with an artificial pitch and join CONCACAF

The tiny French territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, two neighbouring islands just 25km off the Canadian coast, were one of the few places in the world that remained pretty much ignored by international football organisations so far. Football on the archipelago, and of its 6,000 inhabitants, is officially governed by the Ligue de Football de Saint Pierre et Miquelon (LFSPM), which is part of the French Football Federation (FFF). While a local league, with just three teams, has played since 1976, the islanders have rarely played away from their homes. A representative team only featured in the 2010 and 2012 editions of the Coupe de l’Outre Mer, a tournament between all French Overseas Territories formerly played biannually in metropolitan France. A goal difference of 2-78 over seven matches did not particularly lead to an upswing of local football, either.

Lately, however, the FFF seems to be investing more in football on the islands. From 2018-2019, local clubs where integrated into the Coupe de France – the biggest cup competition in France. Saint Pierre and Miquelon thus became the last (populated) territory of France to participate in a national cup. In a remarkable interview with the local TV channel, Samuel Riscagli, who the FFF appointed as a technical advisor for the LFSPM last year, announced his plans for the islands: he is not only planning to raise funds to build a ground with an artificial pitch on the archipelago, but also plans to bring the U13 national team to the Futsal World Cup next February, and join the FIFA continental governing body CONCACAF soon.

After CONCACAF’s affiliation of Bonaire in 2014, only the Dutch islands of Saba and Sint Eustatius, the French territories of Saint Pierre and Miquelon and Saint Barthelemy and the British territory of the Falkland Islands were left out of FIFA-sanctioned football on the double continent. As Saint Barthelemy expressed similar intentions, the two Dutch territories might soon be the last remaining white spots on CONCACAF’s, and ultimately FIFA’s, map of North America and the Caribbean.

Asia committee working to make the first-ever CONIFA Asia Cup a reality…

The CONIFA Asia committee travelled to Malaysia in September, to meet with relevant local stakeholders, as well as visiting and supporting the Rohingya FC team. Rohingya is a CONIFA member who is based in Kuala Lumpur.

The Committee delegation was represented by Jens Jockel, Asia President; Oscar Mussons, Asia General Secretary; and Asher Mulroney, a member of the Asia sponsorship and marketing department.

The main meetings held in the country were focussed on exploring and analysing whether Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia would be able to host the first CONIFA Asia Cup. Among the stakeholders at the meeting were business people, media figures, human rights advocates and sport professionals who felt encouraged by the visit and are positive about the future organisation of the tournament in the country.

Jens Jockel mentioned that he felt optimistic about the local developments achieved so far and believes that “Kuala Lumpur has the potential to be a first-class venue for a CONIFA tournament in every sense.”

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to the Rohingya FC team playing in its regular weekend tournament in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Staff members and players alike were happy to see the CONIFA officials for the second time this year. Local Rohingya teams meet every weekend and play a tournament on a free-of-charge pitch, where they are proud to show off their skills, dressed in some of the kits that CONIFA had donated to them earlier in the year.

Jens Jockel and Oscar Mussons were able to play for 15 minutes for one of the teams, and got a good impression about the technical abilities of the players, but not so much on the irregular conditions of the field!

Oscar Mussons felt that one of the main reasons the Asia Committee decided to explore the possibility of hosting the Asia Cup in Malaysia is due to the fact that the Rohingya FC is located in Kuala Lumpur. “Having an existing team in the country makes a big difference. We not only want to provide them (Rohingya FC) with support and assistance, but we want to make them feel empowered, so that they have the confidence to help us host a top-class international tournament.”

“Playing football makes me feels like nothing else matters”

Meet Sayler W Hla – a member of the Karen FA womens’ team and a skilled football trickster in her own right! Sayler, 19, explains to us why she loves football and – on International Day of the Girl – why playing sport is so important for girls and young women…

CONIFA: Hi Sayler! How did you first start playing football?

Sayler: “I started playing football was when I was 13 years old. I played in a co-ed [mixed] team and I was the only girl who played with all the guys. It was difficult at first because all the other girls were too shy to play at first – but when I started playing, they soon came along and got involved, which I was really happy about!

“My uncle took me to my first game and he also bought me a new set of cleats [studs] that week, which I will always remember.”

C: How did you know you wanted to be a footballer? How did that make you feel?

S: “I wanted to be a football when I was a sixth grader [aged 11]. I worked the hardest that year to make it in to the team at middle school. Unfortunately I didn’t make it and that really made me question if I was good enough – but I didn’t give up.

“I remember still playing in the park for fun while the middle school season was going on because I wanted to play for my school so much. I kept working hard to get a spot on the team. And all that hard work meant I got a starting spot the next year at middle school. That’s when I fell in love with the sport. Even though I made it, I kept working hard because my next step was to make into the varsity team

[first XI]

at high school.

“I kept that mindset throughout my middle school year, so that’s why I was pleased when I was the only 9th Grader [first year at high school] who made the varsity team on my first year. Football made me focus on what my goal was in the sport, so that’s what I love it so much. It makes me feel accomplished.”

C: What is your favourite thing about playing football?

S: “My favorite thing about playing would have to be meeting new people and learning new tricks. Meeting new people makes you a more open-minded person who can see other perspectives. New people teach you new things that you never knew and some can end up being your best friends!

“Learning new tricks is fun and hard – but every time you get it, it makes you so happy and excited that you can finally do it.

“One thing I love more than football is eating chicken wings! If you know me, you’ll know I love, love, love eating wings – but if there’s a soccer game or tournament going on, I’d rather be there or play there… before eating my wings.”

C: How does playing football make you feel?

S: “Playing football makes me feel like nothing else matters at that moment. It makes me let out anger that I’ve been holding inside, and all the stress that I build up. It makes me let go of all the negativity – and after playing, I feel like I’m free from stress, anger and negativity.”

C: What’s the team spirit like when you and your teammates go out on to the field?

S: “What my team – Midwest United – spirit is all about is to never underestimate the other team that we’re facing. I had some players that I played with who doubted themselves before even touching the ball, which really made me upset because I knew they had more in them then they thought. What I do is just tell my teammates to give it all they’ve got and it’s okay to make a mistake while you’re playing. Just go out there, give it your all and you’ll be satisfied. Basically our team spirit is to always be positive… even when there’s a negative outcome.”

C: What does representing Karen FA mean to you?

S: “It means a lot to me because if it wasn’t for the KFA, I probably wouldn’t have any other opportunities to play the game I love so much for my country. Growing up I couldn’t play at clubs because money wasn’t there, but even playing for the Karen tournament each summer builds you up to try other opportunities that are given to you.”

C: Karen FA’s team motto is ‘We play for you’ – what does that mean to you?

S: “The motto ‘We play for you’ doesn’t mean for ourselves or just to show out to our people – but it means we play for the Karen people, people who didn’t have a chance, but now who do. We play for everyone – women, children, men and for gender equality. We want everyone to have the opportunity to play.”

C: Finally, what’s the one thing you would say to other girls who are thinking about playing? What advice would you give to them?

S: “You will always have a chance if you keep working hard. Even if at first you fail, don’t ever give up – just keep focusing on what you can do better. Always have a positive mindset and never be in competition with anyone but yourself. Learn from your peers and teach your peers and you will always have an opportunity waiting for you.”

To find out more about the Karen FA, go to https://karenfa.com/

To find out more about International Day of the Girl, go to https://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/