Field of dreams
A dream that was two years in planning finally became a reality in 2009, as the Baku bears Glasgow rangers supporters club brought to Azerbaijan. Five coaching staff representing Glasgow rangers football clubs youth development programme to host Baku’s First Ever Summer Soccer School.
Previously in 2007 the Baku Bear Rangers supporters club had achieved a first by sending two local Azeri youth footballers to train in Glasgow at a residential training camp run by Glasgow Rangers Football Club.
The latest achievement however would surpass all expectations and firmly establish the Baku Bears as a major force in developing youth football in Azerbaijan.
One hundred local children and twenty local coaches would spend five days at the VETEN sports facility in Ganjalik undergoing training and coaching sessions under the supervision of the coaching staff from Glasgow Rangers Football Club.
To undertake and achieve this monumental task would involve many months of meticulous planning and cooperation between the Baku Bear Supporters Club, Glasgow Rangers Football Club and the Azerbaijan Youth Football Association. From the onset all parties involved were one hundred percent committed to ensuring the success of the first ever Baku Summer Soccer Camp.
In order to raise sufficient funds for the soccer camp. The committee and members of the Baku Bears began a series of fund raising events. These events included raffles, bowling nights and contributions from members and guests on matchdays. A special mention goes to two friends of the Baku Bears Steve Moir and Graeme Wilson who between them raised a staggering amount of money towards the target, well done guys.
As the project developed and in order to ensure that the soccer school would be Baku’s premier sporting event additional funding would be required. This task fell to our former president and loyal member Hugh Cochrane, expatriate and local companies both in Scotland and in Azerbaijan were approached for additional funds and the response was overwhelming, our grateful thanks go to the following
“Diamond Sponsors “
SDL Denholm Ltd
Weldspec Scotland Ltd
“Platinum Sponsors “
West Industries Ltd
And so on Monday the 24th August Baku’s First Ever Summer Soccer School was underway. On arrival at the “VETEN” facility one hundred local children were welcomed with new football kits, footballs and training equipment.
Local press and media were invited to the opening ceremony which was attended by the committee of the Baku bears Glasgow Rangers Supporters Club. Fazil Eybuyov on behalf of the “VETEN“ sports facility gave a welcoming speech to the coaching staff from Glasgow Rangers and John Joyce responded on behalf of the rangers coaches, who along with John Joyce were, William Gilogley, Erald Krasniqi, Darren Mcdaid and Fraser Hunter Stewart. Then Andy Townsley president of the “Baku Bears“ Rangers Supporters Club was then interviewed by the assembled media and explained the primary aims of the “Baku Bears“ Rangers Supporters Club in promoting and sponsoring youth football in Azerbaijan.
The coaching sessions got underway, with the local children being split into five groups with an individual coach and interpreter being assigned to each group. Refreshments were supplied continuously throughout the day and lunches were provided to all children and coaches, a comprehensive first aid facility staffed by a qualified nurse was on hand should the need arise.
The enthusiasm shown by the local children was evident for all to see, and all coaching sessions were fully attended. Such was the success of the soccer camp, that word soon spread amongst the local community and children accompanied by eager parents would turn up daily in the hope of securing a place in the soccer school for their child.
Coaching staff from Glasgow Rangers were impressed by the local children’s discipline and were already beginning to spot some talented youngsters amongst the groups.
After the daily coaching sessions had ended, the coaching staff were able to relax in their hotel as well as being looked after and entertained by the “Baku Bears“ and sponsors alike, with the opportunity to visit local restaurants, visit places of historical interest and indulge in some shopping .
As the week long soccer school drew to an end, the bonding between children and coaches had become inseparable, this was not going to be an easy farewell. On the final day after the last coaching session, local media were again invited to cover the closing ceremony. Presentations were made to the rangers coaching staff by Fazil Eybuyov on behalf of the VETEN sports facility, and gifts and photographs were exchanged between children and coaches. The assembled media Baku Bears committee and guests were then treated to a special Glasgow Rangers send off. One hundred local kids doing the rangers bouncy.
A special presentation ceremony was also arranged on the Saturday in the Clansman Bar in Baku home to the Baku Bears.The coaching staff from Glasgow Rangers were invited along with representatives of sponsors and our regular members and guests, this would prove to be a very emotional and fitting climax to the most successful event to date organised by the Baku Bears.
The presentation ceremony was opened by the vice president of the Baku Bears – Ewen Bickerton, who welcomed the guests to the home of the Baku Bears and gave an introduction to the event. Proceedings were then handed to Andy Townsley president of the Baku Bears who presented awards to the assembled sponsors. It was then the privilege of Beatrice Townsley club treasurer to present a special award to our two previously mentioned friends of the “Baku Bears” Graham and Steve, emotions were running high and the final awards were yet to be presented.
Andy then presented the penultimate award to Fazail Eybuyov director of football at the VETEN facility. It now all came down to presenting the coaching staff from Glasgow Rangers Football Club with their awards. The coaches were thanked by Andy for their contribution to making the soccer school a resounding success and for displaying the highest levels of professionalism and for being outstanding ambassadors to Scotland and the famous Glasgow Rangers Football Club.
Again John Joyce on behalf of the assembled coaches gave a very well received speech in reply, thanking the Baku Bears in organising what he himself described as the best organised and well run soccer school he had attended. High praise from a coach who has travelled worldwide representing Glasgow Rangers, further praise was given to the hospitality they had received from everyone they had met in Baku. At this point bears and coaches alike were united in a bond of friendship that we hope and know will continue for many years.
To all the persons who contributed to making this event an outstanding success and you know who you are we offer our sincerest thanks.
Ewen Bickerton on behalf of the president committee and loyal members of the “Baku Bears “Glasgow Rangers Football Club
“Let the others follow, we welcome the chase “
“Bill Struth “