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Russian Federation/Chechnya: Young footballers from Grozny score in Moscow

06-12-2004 News Release 04/141

More than 30 teams from all over Russia competed in the annual Presidential Football Cup for the Disabled in Moscow last week. Laman az from Grozny played in the tournament for the first time, with support from the ICRC.

  More than 30 teams from all over Russia will be competing in the annual Presidential Football Cup for the Disabled in Moscow this week. With support from the ICRC, Laman az from Grozny are playing in the tournament for the first time. Most of these teenagers have suffered from mine and unexploded ordinance (UXO) accidents, but they have not let their injuries stop them playing football and the sport has helped them rebuild their self-confidence.
 
The idea of organizing a football team made up of amputees became reality through the efforts of " Voice of the mountains, " a local NGO involved in mine-risk education. Coach Ruslan Gerzishev is impressed: " As an experienced coach I thought it was impossible to create a team of disabled players. But two years ago I happened to watch them play. I saw how determined they were and I saw the hope in their eyes. So I decided to give them a chance.”
 
For the last two years, the nine young footballers have been training three times a week, using the only sports hall in Grozny that has not been destroyed. Laman az has already won several prizes in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Adler and is frequently involved in helping raise awareness of the dangers that mines present.
 
Despite help from humanitarian organizations, life is not easy for the team. The absence of regular funding means the young footballers often miss matches outside the republic and ar e always looking for ways to get hold of equipment. As well as playing their favourite sport, these brave teenagers are keeping up with their studies. Adam Mezhiev, an architecture student at the Grozny Institute of Oil, has definite plans: " When I graduate, I’m going to build a sports complex in Grozny like Krylatskoe in Moscow, with space for all types of sport and proper facilities for disabled sportsmen! " .
 
The ICRC is running educational programmes to help civilians in Chechnya – especially children – avoid the dangers of mines and unexploded ordinance.

 For more information please contact:  

 Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Moscow, tel. ++7 095 926 54 26  

 Olivier Bangerter, ICRC Nalchik, tel. ++7 8662 44 23 41  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58