President Aliyev meets with national polo team (UPDATE)
By Nigar Orujova
President Ilham Aliyev met with members of Azerbaijan’s national polo team on October 2.
Addressing the event, the president noted that the national team became champion of the first FIP Arena Polo European Championship in Baku last month. He congratulated the team, coaches, sports professionals and representatives of the Federation on this momentous occasion.
“The championship was held at a high level. This is natural, since all international sporting events are held in Azerbaijan at the highest level. Our team, of course, demonstrated its strength. This is another sports victory,” President Aliyev said.
The president went on to add that polo is a sport that is very close to the hearts of Azerbaijanis, as it is very similar to the ancient national game of chovgan. “Of course, our athletes have great experience. However, the European Championship is a very prestigious sporting event. The championship was attended by very strong teams and the fight was very tense.”
The head of state noted that a lot of attention and interest is given to the development of the equestrian sport in both Baku and the regions.
In general, sports are a priority in Azerbaijan and at the first European Games, the national team was awarded second place, he said.
“The Islamic Solidarity Games will be held in two years [in Baku]. Azerbaijan will again enter its name into history -- it is the first country to hold both European and Islamic Games. Once again, I am convinced that they will become the next sports holiday. At present, preparations are underway and I am convinced that the Islamic Solidarity Games will be held at the level of the European Games, that is the level of the Summer Olympic Games, since we set ourselves a goal and were able to achieve it,” President Aliyev said.
The head of state also discussed the sports infrastructure throughout the country, which promotes the healthy moral and physical upbringing of the youth.
Azerbaijan Equestrian Federation President Elchin Guliyev and team member Elchin Jamalli thanked President Aliyev for the attention given to the development of sport in the country, particularly equestrian sports and polo.
Elchin Jamalli, a member of the national polo team, said that in recent years, Azerbaijan has done substantial work to promote all types of equestrian sports. International tournaments were held at a high level; stronger horse breeds were brought up.
Guliyev noted that earlier, Azerbaijani athletes earned good results only in traditional sports, but now these types of sports are growing and Azerbaijani sportsmen are achieving solid results in other sports as well.
The coach of the national team, Sylvester Garros, was pleased by what he saw in Baku during his stay in Azerbaijan. He talked about the achievements that Azerbaijani sportsmen produce in international competitions, including the Olympic Games.
He noted the great similarities between polo and the Azerbaijani national game of chovgan and said he has not seen such quality conditions and the potential for development of the sport in any country of the world.
After the speech, keepsakes were presented to the head of state.
The first FIP Arena Polo European Championship was held in Baku
on September 4-12.
The national team, which included Elchin Jamal, Tarlan Gurbanaliyev, Rashad Hasanov, and Sylvester Garros, took gold defeating Germany, proving that Azerbaijanis still retain their mastery of this ancient sport.
Azerbaijan has been a member of the Federation of International Polo since 2013.
They have a heritage of playing equestrian sports like chovgan, the original form of polo dating back thousands of years. Chovgan still exists in Azerbaijan to this day, and since 2006, the Chovgan Presidential Cup has been held every December.
This ancient game was included in UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the eighth Session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was held in Baku in 2013.