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April 17, 2014

CONIFA Visits Abkhazia and Meets South Ossetia: “A Historical Chance”

After the visit to Nagorno-Karabakh our delegation travelled to Abkhazia. In Sukhum our General Secretary gained the full support of the local Football Association and Government. Also the Minister of Sports of South Ossetia – who travelled 20 hours to meet us – expressed his enthusiasm to join CONIFA.

It was Juma Kwaralchelir, the coach of the National Team himself, who picked our delegation up at the border with Georgia. In Sukhum, the Capital, our General Secretary Sascha Düerkop was immediately introduced to Beslan F. Eshba, the Deputy Prime Minister. This was all possible due to Astamur Adleiba, the Manager of the National Team and President of Dynamo Sukhum, and Jemal Gubaz, the President of the FA. “For more than six months Astamur and Jemal have talked about CONIFA and the World Football Cup. I’m very happy that I can see you here in person now”, Eshba says. “We will do everything to get our players in good shape for Östersund. We have some very good players, Abkhazia has everything to be a member of FIFA. As they don’t want us to join, we are very happy that CONIFA gives us the opportunity.”

After the meeting with Mr Eshba our General Secretary was driven to the parliament. Valeri Bganba, the spokeperson of the Parliament, as well as his colleague-parliamentarians were very enthusiastic. “Sport is far less complex than politics”, Bganba declares. “We always had to play under the Russian flag, now we want to show the real Abkhazia. In that way CONIFA is a huge improvement for us. It’s a great sign of respect towards our people. I can assure you: everybody within the parliament will give CONIFA and the Abkhazia Football Federation the full support. If you want us to we will be ready to host games and tournaments. We have a stadium in each region of the country and are building a new one in the capital.”

Again the media attention was huge. Sascha got interviewed a few times by journalists from newspapers and television stations. He even made it to a talkshow on the national television. Thanks to Asatamur and Jemal our delegation got also invited for the Abkhazia Super Cup, between NartSukhum and Gagra. In the stadium we saw Sukhum winning after penalties. And who handed over the Cup and could give a speech in the stadium? Indeed, our General Secretary.

As well as in Nagorno-Karabakh our delegation saw a very enthusiastic and determined Football Association, driven by fanatical football fans, like Astamur, Jemal and Juma. “Thanks to football I could travel a lot, but there’s no country as beautiful as Abkhazia”, says Juma, the coach of the National Team, with a smile. “The next few months we will upgrade our stadiums and grounds. In the future we hope to welcome teams from all over the world. The World Cup in Ostersund? My team is ready. But of course the most important is the closing ceremony and the party afterwards (laughs). No, seriously. We have some good players, in the Russian League as well as in the Abkhazian. They are all talented, and they are very motivated to play on the World Football Cup. June normally is a vacation period for our players, but they will skip it without complaints to represent Abkhazia.”

Finally, we ourselves want to sincerely thank Sergey Zassejev, the minister of sports of South Ossetia, who travelled 20 hours to meet us in Abkhazia. His country will not take part in the World Football Cup, but we’re sure they will be a very strong member in the long run. “This is historical chance for South Ossetia”, Zassejev says. “At this moment there is not yet a national competition, we are establishing a new FA and have already talks with a new coach. Volleyball, wrestling, athletics,… South Ossetia produced a lot of champions in its history. Now we want to do the same in football. There’s a generation who only suffered from war. We want to pleasure them with the joy of sports. We’re fully convinced that football and CONIFA can make a big change for our country.”

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By Robin Toal

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