December 4, 2023

Rugby in Kyrgyzstan: a hopeful recovery

Rugby is a fringe sport in Central Asia. But in recent years, numerous initiatives have emerged to promote sports in Kyrgyzstan for both men and women.

Central Asia has seen a resurgence in rugby in recent years, and Kyrgyzstan aims to become a major player in this growth. At the heart of this development are various initiatives to promote rugby in the country, among both men and women.

In 2023, the Kyrgyz Rugby Union decided to expand its scope, attracting interest from other countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Russia. This year, several ambitious projects saw the light of day, marking an important step in the development of rugby in Kyrgyzstan.

Rugby in Kyrgyzstan is progressing under the auspices of Asia Rugby Forward, a branch of the International Association World Rugby. According to the Kyrgyzstan National Rugby Union, the ultimate goal is to achieve World Rugby membership. This would bring great financial benefits and the opportunity to participate in more competitions.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Kyrgyzstan is pursuing an aggressive development strategy, with a particular focus on women’s rugby. Because without a women’s team, this position remains out of reach. The development of women’s rugby is an irreplaceable priority.

Internal projects and school development initiatives

Rugby has become increasingly popular in Kyrgyzstan, as evidenced by the doubling of followers on the site Instagram account to the Association within one year. Norgay Kolgaev, former USSR special forces colonel and current president of the federation, has high hopes for the future of sport in Novastan. “One of the most remote areas in the world.”

According to him, this dynamic has just been revived through a school development project to encourage rugby among children. Student competitions have been successful, and the establishment of the Bishkek Rugby Academy enables rapid recruitment of new players.

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Training the trainers was one of the most important stages in this development. Since April 2022, the Kyrgyz Rugby Union has been presenting World Rugby and Asian Rugby in cooperation with the International Olympic Committee. More training in. Kyrgyz Minister of Sports Granted On July 6, twelve of these players were awarded the title of “Sports Champion.” “This had a huge impact on the quality of training of young players.”“, explains Egirim Isakova, Secretary General of the association, to Novastan.

The newly trained coaches can now work in schools across the country, giving young people the opportunity to discover a sport that is still little known in Kyrgyzstan. Isakwa announced that a school competition project called “Children’s League” will be launched in 2024 to attract more people to the sport.

Support from major rugby nations

Embassy of France in Kyrgyzstan to explainShe wanted to contribute to women’s liberation through sports by providing valuable support to the association. Since last February, the embassy has been implementing a project to promote women’s rugby in the country. In September, a Bishkek club received T-shirts and balls to improve training conditions for girls. This support is at the heart of the Rugby in Schools development project and has a significant social impact.

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Girls and women are now being encouraged to explore rugby, breaking persistent gender stereotypes surrounding the sport. The Women’s Rugby Development Project in Kyrgyzstan was launched last April as part of a forum initiated by Rugby Asia in Almaty foot It attracted great attention from neighboring countries.

The support of the British Embassy was also crucial in this process. Representatives of the Welsh Rugby Union organized training sessions for children in Bishkek and beyond in September Chuy areasuch as the Kyrgyz news portal 24. kg mentioned. In addition, four Welsh experts conducted special training for national players and coaches. The guests also donated more than 300 kilograms of equipment.

Challenges to be overcome

Aside from corruption and harsh winter weather, rugby faces geopolitical challenges in Kyrgyzstan. Norgay Kolgaev told Novastan that he received an offer to send the players to Russia for training in order to benefit from the experience there.

To his regret, World Rugby banned the trip. However, negotiations will continue as this could represent an important step towards improving the level of domestic play.

Despite the obstacles, the future of rugby in Kyrgyzstan looks bright, driven by continued development momentum and a particularly strong desire from its supporters.

Lucian Marger for Novastan

from French By Robin Roth

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