This article is about how the striker revived interest in football in Georgia. It’s not meant to be fundamental research, it’s just sketches from a Russian tourist in Georgia. But some conclusions can be drawn from them.
For the first time, I ended up in Georgia by accident, with a chance. Then a team from Tbilisi entered the VTB United League. The league management decided to organize a promotional tour in Tbilisi. About a dozen journalists flew to the Georgian capital on a CSKA charter flight. The army team just played a VTB League regular season game with a local team. The game was the reason for the trip.
We arrived in the evening, checked into a hotel in the old part of Tbilisi. Then we went to dinner with all the people at the nearest restaurant. Football was on the screen – the youth teams of Georgia and Spain were playing. Qualifying match for the Eurocup.
And what do you think, the sound of the transmission was turned off. Background music in the restaurant. And most importantly, none of the visitors paid attention to the broadcast.
Is this really Georgia? Homeland of Meskhi, Khurtsilava, Kipiani, Gutsaev, Shengelia, Chivadze?
I’m not saying you need to take a break from dinner and watch football. But at least something of interest, as it seemed to me, should be in the match. No, football was playing in the background and no sound.
I asked the waiter why no one watches football. The answer killed: “This is not interesting. In the afternoon we play Wales in the Rugby World Cup. All of Georgia will watch this game.”
What the hell is rugby? Who needs it? But these are emotions, I knew that rugby is very popular in Georgia. But not at the expense of football!
There was a sequel. A colleague suggested continuing the evening in a pub in the old town. He has already been there.
“Great place, the band plays amazing blues there.”
We go in, the pub is full, the band isn’t playing. What?
“Rugby will start now, we are all waiting.” And for you to think, this damn rugby has been going on for a long time. The pub greeted each successful action by its team with a standing ovation. Marvelous. Miracles. The Georgians won and the beer flowed with even more joy. And the band started playing around midnight when the rugby ended.
BATUMI. AUGUST 2022
I came to Georgia again, this time as a tourist. Our hotel on the outskirts of Batumi shared a courtyard with a three-story house. An old Georgian woman in her sixties sat in the courtyard all the time.
Once I went out to sit in the courtyard, I had to somehow start a conversation, sit quietly and look at each other, awkward.
He asked if the new stadium where Dynamo Batumi plays was far from here. By the way, the current champion of Georgia. The conversation flowed smoothly to Khvicha, he was already charming in Napoli.
“Khvicha played in Batumi, he had a full stadium. We are all very worried about Khvicha. We see all the games, the whole patio. They even called it Quaradona in Naples, like that,” an elderly woman shared the news.
How does she know about Quaradona? Miracles.
TBILISI. SEPTEMBER 7, 2022
From Batumi he returned to Tbilisi on September 7. The first night I went to the same pub to listen to some good live music. And here – deja vu, six years later. Only the sport is different. The instruments are standing, but there is no music.
“Football will start now, Khvicha will play.”
It was a Champions League match between Napoli and Liverpool. The hosts won and Khvicha played well. The pub reacted very emotionally to every successful action of Kvaratskhelia…
The band started playing around midnight when the football ended.