ANKARA; Armenian soccer teams help build bridges

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
March 16 2007

Armenian soccer teams help build bridges

Despite growing pressure on Turkey from both Western countries and
the Armenian diaspora to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide,
relations between the two societies are growing closer in the field
of sports.

Pyunik coach Samuel Petrosyan
Armenian soccer teams have chosen Antalya to prepare for next season,
setting up their spring camp there. Pyunik, Mika and Banants, the
first three teams in the Armenian Premier League, are holding their
spring training camps in the Belek district of Antalya. Pyunik is the
Armenian league champion, Mika the runner-up and Banants the second
runner-up. Seven Pyunik players are also regular starters in the
Armenian national team. Pyunik’s coach Smuel Petrosyan told Today’s
Zaman that Pyunik doesn’t have any trouble in Turkey. Petrosyan said
they chose Antalya as the site for their spring training camp from
the recommendations of friends he had made in Turkey. Pyunik’s Sarkis
Ovsepyan added that friendly games between Turkey and Armenia would
make positive contributions toward resolving the misunderstanding
between the two countries.
`We will be here next year, too’

The Armenian teams will remain in Belek for two weeks. Petrosyan said
Pyunik will be in Antalya next year for their spring camp. `The
Armenians are here as a team for the first time, but I have been here
several times in the past. I was here in 1973 as a player for the
USSR youth team to play against Kayserispor. I have many friends in
Turkey. They told me that both the soccer pitches and the weather are
quite good here in Antalya. And so we chose to hold our spring camp

The political row between Turkey and Armenia is not a hindrance to
their plans to camp in Turkey, said Petrosyan. `Football is not about
politics, it is a game.’ Petrosyan said he will advise other Armenian
teams to come train in Antalya.


ªaban Gündüz, Kenan Baº Antalya

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