Reviving Football traditions in Artsakh

Azat Artsakh – Repubic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 24, 2004


These days Gagik Tsatrian, once a popular football player of `Ararat’
of Yerevan, graduate of the Moscow high school of coaches, is in
Artsakh. Our compatriot has been living in Russia for 15 years
already, where he worked with Russian football clubs. Currently he
lives in Karelia, where along with running his business he works as a
sport advisor. Every year Gagik Tsatrian visits his motherland. This
time he arrived for the occasion of the 50th birthday of his former
teammate, former football player of Karabakh Karlen Simonian. In 1977s
these two football players together with their teammates in `Karabakh’
they won the title of champion of Azerbaijan. Wecan only imagine what
difficulties they had to overcome to achieve this title. As in all
the other spheres of life in Azerbaijan football was also an area for
discrimination. It is notable that after this victory the football
federation of Azerbaijan dismissed the coach of the team Razmik
Petrossian labeling him nationalist and appointed an Azerbaijani in
his place. During our talk Gagik Tsatrian mentioned that since the
1960’s the Artsakh sportsmen were in a real struggle with the Azeri
nationalism because the concealed conflict between the Turks and the
Armenians went on also in the field. Unfortunately in the recent years
football in Artsakh has regressed if not to say it has lost its former
popularity. The reason is perhaps that no more serious football
matches are held in the stadium of Stepanakert. And this has a purely
political explanation: NKR is not recognized. Whereas football fans
remember that in the 1970-80 certain matches of the Cup of the USSR
were held here, and not only those with the participation of
Azerbaijan. According to Gagik Tsatrian today in Karelia, where he
works, international matches are held. In the context of the
International Chess Tournament held in Stepanakert the necessity of
developing this sport also becomes apparent. Especially that Artsakh
has football traditions, we only have to revive them. There are no
difficult problems if the way of solution has been found. At the same
time he expressed anxiety concerning the present situation of this
sport in Karabakh. He mentioned with pity that the former glory of
`Karabakh’ Karlen Simonian, who after leaving sport trained teams, now
is left without any work. Such specialists, he said, cannot be left
out of the game. And in general, according to him, it is inadmissible
to make such persons victims of intrigues. G. Tsatrian enumerated the
names of the people who could contribute to the restoration of the
potential of football in the republic. In any sport it is possible to
organize international tournaments in Artsakh. One of the hindering
reasons is the absence of adequate sports grounds and halls. Last year
after the international competitions of table tennis the NKR vice
minister of education, culture and sport G. Balayan also raised this
question. Only a year passed but it became possible to organize a
high-level sports event. This tendency may only arouse positive
anticipations. And again returning to the topic of football and making
a conclusion from the concerns of Gagik Tsatrian and the formulation
of Gary Balayan, we will mention an important circumstance: the
solution of the question requires comprehensive state
assistance. Having the example of the recently held chess tournament
let us remember that sport is the ambassador of peace in the world and
one of the effective factors favouring the recognition of the
country. In addition, Gagik Tsatrian is ready to employ his
possibilities and relations in Russia for the realization of such a