Kyrgyz Coaches Pick Up Tips on U.S. Sportsmanship
May 3, 2012
Washington — Five Kyrgyz athletic coaches learned principles of American sportsmanship during an exchange with a Missouri secondary school.
Coach Furkhatzhon Mavlianov of Kyzyl-Kiya, Kyrgyzstan, liked learning that the Missouri state and U.S. federal governments support the development of sports and physical education. Fellow Kyrgyz coach Natalia Raldugina from Tokmok likes that in the United States, athletic coaches have separate physical education curricula for elementary, middle and secondary school students.
Mavlianov and Raldugina joined three more coaches from Kyrgyzstan for a week’s visit to Webster Groves High School outside of St. Louis. Their trip was sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' SportsUnited program and implemented by the Washington-based nonprofit IREX (originally established as the International Research & Exchanges Board). The five coaches have between eight and 28 years' experience in coaching students in sports popular in Kyrgyzstan — soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, track and field, and table tennis.
The coaches’ trip was a follow-up to a December visit by Webster Groves coach David Cady to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek. Cady worked with 30 male and female coaches from secondary schools around Kyrgyzstan, sharing ideas about how to use physical education as a means to promote mutual understanding and bridge ethnic divides, said Ryan Murphy, a SportsUnited program officer. Cady was accompanied by South African Taylor Brown, a member of Washington-based nonprofit PeacePlayers International, which since 2001 has worked in areas experiencing conflict, including Northern Ireland, the West Bank and Gaza, and South Africa.
The style of American sportsmanship earned several comments from the coaches. Nurlan Asanbaev of Karakol said he was impressed during a Webster Groves volleyball game when one team member failed to properly serve the ball to the team on the other side of the net. “He took a risk but failed,“ Asanbaev said. “But instead of criticizing him, his teammates told him encouraging words of support.”
“I also noticed a great deal of respect is always there, not only among a player’s own sports team but with members of an opposing team,” he said.
Raldugina noted that American secondary school students have the freedom to choose those sports and other physical education activities on which they wish to concentrate.
Nurbek Nurseitov coaches in Jalal-Abad. He likes the fact that American colleges can award scholarships to athletes who maintain good academic records. He also likes the fact that American schools offer after-school sports “so that students have something to do after classes.”
Svetlana Khalmirzaeva of Bishkek said that when the group returns to Kyrgyzstan the five coaches want to concentrate on physical activities that emphasize team building and the ability to prevent conflicts.
Raldugina added that the coaches intend to hold a youth summer camp that will include sports new to Kyrgyzstan, such as baseball, lacrosse and Frisbee throwing. They also will share what they learned from Cady and at Webster Groves and other schools in the St. Louis area with other Kyrgyz coaches and with Ministry of Education officials, recommending adjustments to the country’s physical education and sports programs, she said.
“It was a stunning experience,” said Eldiyar Seitkaziev, a Bishkek-based IREX program officer who traveled to St. Louis as the coaches’ interpreter.
“The experience encouraged and empowered them,” he said.