After Uzbekistan, Iceland, Mexico, Albania… we are heading to a new exotic country to watch some proper football. This time it’s Kyrgyzstan with Quentin, who is starting again his trip cycling around the world. While he’s crossing Asia he had the chance to attend a game of Division one between the famous Alga Bishkek and the renown FC Kaganat. Pictures are just stunning, the story is amazing, so we can’t wait you finding out what it’s all about over there.
Jeremie : Quentin, before we start asking you anything about your experience, why do players have some red painting on the cheek?
Quentin : Well, the red mark is a sign of protest against violence to women. This started after a kidnapping, which is normally an old habit in Kyrgyzstan. Future husbands kidnap the woman they will marry, but that time things turned the wrong way. Some dude strangled her in a car and then killed himself. Sorry to start with that, it doesn’t quite set the mood right but you’re the one who asked.
Jeremie : Damn, let’s focus on football then. Tell us more about the game itself.
Quentin : It’s a First Division game: Alga Bishkek, top of the league, playing against FC Kaganat in Osh. 1-0 for Alga Bishkek.
Jeremie : When was the last time you went in a stadium to see a game?
Quentin : I can’t even remeber. Maybe 2018 or something. It felt great being able to see some football again and to play with locals!
Jeremie : I loved your pictures, especially the one of the bloke grabbing his balls. It really feels a special atmosphere that reminds me Uzbekistan. What felt so special in the stadium?
Quentin : First there aren’t any stewards, they’re replaced by militaries. But what surprised me the most is how easy to get in the ground. It’s free, there aren’t any turnstiles. Not many fans. Very quiet atmosphere, except a bunch of youngsters who came to support Bishkek. Regarding the architecture, the stadium is from the Soviet era, quite old now, with the pitch that is pretty bad to be fair. In the background you can see Lenine statue, the second tallest in the whole of Central Asia.
Jeremie : What’s the standard like?
Quentin : It’s not better than D5 in France I would say, bottom of the league. The only player that stands out, not for his skills, but culturally and physically is Alga Bishkek forward and the only scorer of the game: Oluwaseun Aleriwa from Nigeria. The other players come from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan.
Jeremie : Something special to tell us about your experience?
Quentin : I played futsal a lot with locals, and people I talked to told they didn’t care about the local league at all. Games are played during the week, not the weekend, which is uncommon for a top league. This game was played on a Monday afternoon.
By the way, Kyrgysz League is celebrating its 100 years this year.
We want to thank Quentin so much for sharing this amazing experience. Football you don’t see on TV has never been that true.
Photography by Quentin – En Selle, who’s travelling the world on his bike.