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Today is football, today is a holiday, today is a celebration!

The poem «Novruz» belonging to the pen of the remarkable Turkmen poet and great statesman Bairam Khan (1501-1561) has been passed from mouth to mouth for five centuries. If many singers, storytellers and copyists of this beautiful poetic work somehow magically moved to our days, they would see that today's generation is also inspired by the immortal lines of «Novruz» by Bairam Khan Shahir.

This ode to the holiday associated with the arrival of spring in the world begins with the words, «Today is Novruz, today is a holiday, today is festivities». These lines expressing the excitement and awe that Nowruz brings to the human soul have been hovering in my mind for a long time. Being among the fans who willingly go to watch the national championship matches every week and witness the spectacle of the «game of millions», it is easy for me to understand their excitement.

A green lawn, a ball, a referee, 11 masters of football on each side, 90 minutes of play.  When it all comes together in a beautiful and exciting match, football fans and TV viewers get an aesthetic pleasure that is remembered a week, a month and even years later.  Such is the magic of football!

I remember how in 1990, on the eve of Novruz celebration - 20th of March, the team, for which we cheered with the whole village, played in Madrid and sensationally defeated the royal club «Real» with the score 3:1. Then, thanks to this victory in football confrontation, Novruz celebration became a double celebration for us, village fans.

 I think it is not a great exaggeration to say that for a true football connoisseur this game is always a foretaste of a holiday, an expectation of contact with the beautiful. And this is regardless of who is playing and in what competitions - matches of youth teams or with the participation of the national team. Therefore, probably, no one will be surprised if in the famous poem of Bairam Khan the word «Novruz» will be replaced by the word «football». Because there is a commonality in the feeling these words evoke. If we remember that in the days of Novruz celebration people forgive offences, reconcile quarrels, go to visit each other, congratulate each other, there are smiles and joy on their faces and many other good things. In these actions of ordinary people, football fans will find qualities that they relate to.

At the World Cup - 2022 in Qatar after the victory of Saudi Arabia over Argentina and the victory of Argentina at this mundial in these countries were declared a «day off». This proves once again - football has such power that it can make changes to calendars. If we leave behind the World Cup held in the Middle East and step into the borders of our homeland, Turkmenistan, we will see that September is rich in football events. Following the Education and Student Youth Day, celebrated in our country on FIFA days, our national football team played friendly matches in preparation for the World Cup. Our youth national team participated in the Asian Championship qualifying match. The leaders of the national championship joined the AFC-led competition, continuing a string of joyous moments on the eve of the Independence Day celebrations.

On 19 September, Akhal, playing in the AFC Champions League, hosted the Saudi Arabian Cup winner Al-Feikha Club at the Ashgabat Stadium. 21 September «Altyn Asyr» and «Merv» played matches of the 1st round. «Merv» met with the team «Ravshan» from Hisar (Tajikistan), «Altyn Asyr» with the team «Abdysh Ata» from Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic). Though they do not say «today is football, today is a holiday, today is a celebration», in the heart of every fan there is a feeling of holiday, so we would like to consider that football is the main sport. But in order not to upset fans of other sports, I will keep this thought to myself and say to football fans, «Happy holidays!». If they ask me: «What kind of holiday?», I can safely say: «football holiday», because football is played all year round, and even when it is not played, fans still talk about football and find pleasure in it.

 Love football! Play football! Cheer for football! Then every day will be a holiday for you and Bairam Khan's famous lines would probably go like this:

Every day is football, every day is a holiday, every day is a celebration.

Hojaberdi APBAEV,


Translated from Turkmen by Kakamurad Geldiev