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Istiklol Dushanbe Home Shirt 2009-10

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I will be posting some of the shirts I acquired before starting this blog, and after posting some pictures of Tajik stadiums I thought I should start the process of catching up with a shirt from the Tajik side Istiklol Dushanbe. It is made by the Chinese manufacturer Li-Ning Sports, a clear example of the economic influence China has in Tajikistan. Tajikistan shares an Eastern border with China, and China is more than willing to go head to head with Russia in a battle for influence over Central Asia, a 21st century Great Game. This influence reaches into many sectors, including energy and infrastructure (Chinese prisoners build tunnels in Tajikistan), transportation (many of the newer city busses in Dushanbe sport Chinese characters), and–apparently–sporting goods.

Although the material feels quality enough–reminiscent of some late 90s Puma shirts–I still cant help but feel it will come apart if I wash it too much. As such, I’ve resorted to hand washing, since I dont want to lose a shirt that was so difficult to obtain. Finding an official shirt in Tajikistan is very difficult. The Li-Ning store on Rudaki avenue in Dushanbe told me that they had no shirts available (other than the one on the mannequin standing in the window which was apparently not for sale), but the Li-Ning branch in Tajikistan’s second city, Khujand, was a different story. At first they too were reluctant to sell their one example of the shirt  (Why is there only shirt per store per city that isn’t even available for purchase?) which was, again, gracing a mannequin in the store-front window. After a little bit of pleading and  repeated assurances that I would pay them, the 3 shopkeepers relented–but not before they had a good laugh at the American guy who would not be deterred in his search for an official shirt from Tajikistan.

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The badge is a quality embroidery, despite being on the wrong side of the chest. Apparently, Li Ning sports has more of a hold on the player’s allegiance than their team:

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A Li-Ning billboard, advertising the shirts that….aren’t really on sale. One interesting linguistic fact here, that my friend Kevin and I noticed. The Tajik below the team’s picture reads “ИНТИXОБИ МО”, which translates as “Our Choice”. This is very similar to the terminology used in many Spanish-speaking countries for their nation sides–“La Selección“. Interesting, since Tajikistan is nowhere near Spain. Or El Salvador.

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20 Years of Independence Stadium (20-Letie Nezavisimosti Stadium), Khujand, Tajikistan – FK Khujand

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This modern stadium was built in 2009 and has space for 25,000 spectators. It is in fact so modern that I was not allowed in–not that there was anyone around of course, the large padlock on the gate told me not to snoop. That and the imposing Lenin Statue standing sentry across the street. It was once Central Asia’s largest monument to Lenin, but it was torn down nine months after I visited. For more, please see Radio Free Europe’s Piece: http://www.rferl.org/content/lenin_statue_removed_from_center_of_tajikstans_second_city/24210988.html

Oh, the memories.

A view of the stadium from Lenin’s side of the street:

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Unsure as to what sport this is. Definitely not football:

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A sentinel-like Lenin:

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Lokomotiv Stadium, Dushanbe, Tajikistan – Tenant Unknown

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My map of Dushanbe told me that there was a stadium hiding somewhere behind the Central Railway station and indeed there was. I followed my map down the platforms of the station through the middle of a pick-up soccer game, crossed the railroad tracks, and found this derelict stadium. Once inside the stadium I found the only other human being for what felt like miles–a lone groundskeeper watering (whats left of) the grass at this derelict ground.

Like most of the former USSR, apparently Tajikistan also has a railway worker’s team, although from the size of this ground I’m assuming its more of a training ground for railway employees to have a kick about on, since my research has not uncovered any team called “Lokomotiv Dushanbe”. If anyone knows more about this team, I’d be very grateful.  The most most famous Railway team in the former USSR has got to be Lokomotiv Moscow, but there are many others throughout the former USSR and Eastern Bloc such as Lokomotiv Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) , Lokomotivi Tblisi (Georgia), Lokomotiva Zagreb (Croatia), Lokomotiv Sofia (Bulgaria), Lokomotiv Plovdiv (Bulgaria), and CFR Cluj (Romania . Though not a Lokomotiv they’re still a railway team–CFR stands for Căile Ferate Române, Romanian Railways). Pictures of the Dushanbe Lokomotiv Stadium are below.

Pick-Up Soccer knows no bounds:

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The “Loko” Graffiti told me I was in the right place, although its a long way from Lokomotiv Moscow to Dushanbe. Perhaps it was trying to tell me that I was a bit “Loko” for even visiting this forgotten ground:

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Number 2 cuts a lonely figure in a place that time forgot:

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Pamir Stadium/Central Republican Stadium, Dushanbe, Tajikistan – CSKA Dushanbe, Energetik Dushanbe, Istiklol Dushanbe

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This is the main stadium in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. I visited back in the summer of 2010 while participating in a one month intensive course in Tajik and Farsi language study. Since it was summer there were no games to attend, but it did allow me to get some nice shots of the stadium when it was completely empty. It is listed as having a capacity of 24,000 and its size means that it is also the national stadium, used for the Tajik national team’s games as well as for various celebratory national events. The people working here were very kind, and even showed me into a few rooms where I was able to see, among other things, the schedule for weekly events posted on the wall. Despite its location in a remote Central Asian capital, the Pamir or Central Republican Stadium–the name depending on your (political) point of view, I suppose–it would not be out of place in an Eastern European capital. Due to Tajikistan’s the Soviet past, this stadium is similar to some that I saw in Ukraine, Estonia, and Bulgaria. It is located in a park, nestled amidst a sea of green trees near the Dushanbe zoo. Definitely another example of one thing the USSR did quite well: Location choice for stadiums.

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