Sport in Abkhazia

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Sport in Abkhazia plays an important cultural role.

Football[edit]

Football was the most popular sport in Abkhazia during Soviet times. The main club of the republic, FC Dinamo Sukhumi, played mostly in the lower leagues of Soviet football. However, Abkhazia produced several football talents who played in the top Georgian team FC Dinamo Tbilisi and in other Soviet teams. Natives of Abkhazia Vitaly Daraselia, Nikita (Mkrtych) Simonian, Avtandil Gogoberidze, Niyazbey Dzyapshipa, Giorgi Gavasheli, Temuri Ketsbaia and Akhrik Tsveiba were among the most prominent footballers of the Soviet Union.

Dinamo Sukhumi achieved their best result in 1991 finishing in 10th place in the first league (second tier of Soviet football).[1] They were the only Georgian team to participate in the Soviet football system in 1990-1991 as other Georgian teams left for political reasons before the 1990 season.[2] Several players of the 1990-1991 Dinamo Sukhumi squad including Sergei Ovchinnikov and the Adzhindzhal brothers played later for Russian teams and achieved varying degrees of success, as did Oleg Dolmatov, Dinamo's coach in 1990-1991.

After Abkhazia broke away from Georgia, it organised its own amateur Abkhazian football league in 1994 which is not part of any international football union. The league consists of 9 teams: Nart (Sukhumi), Gagra, Kiaraz (Pitsunda), Samurzakan (Gali), Afon (New Athos), Ertsakhu (Ochamchire), Kudry (Gulripsh) and Abazg-AGU (Sukhumi).[3] The Gagra football club was the 2006 champion.[4] The Abkhazian team will probably participate in the Amateur League of the Southern Federal District (fourth tier of Russian football pyramid).[5]

The Tbilisi-based FC Dinamo Sokhumi, composed chiefly of Georgian IDPs from Sukhumi, play in the Umaglesi Liga, the top division in Georgian football.

Other sports[edit]

The majority of Abkhazia's population have Russian citizenship so Abkhazian sportsmen participate in international competitions as Russian citizens. They had their biggest successes in boxing (2005 European Champion David Arshba;[6] 2006 Russian Championship prize-winner Aslan Akhba) and freestyle wrestling (2006 American Airlines Freestyle Wrestling Tournament winner Denis Tsargush[7]]).

"Sukhum" basketball club plays in the Southern Division of the First League (fourth tier of the Russian basketball system).[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]