Monday 22 June 2015

Football wins at the border, by Michael Noyce

The border crossing out of Osh from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan was a five and a half hour nightmare of bureaucracy, patience and frustration. For John George and me, walking through, it was easy compared with the boys with the vehicles. For them there were multiple checks of the cars and paperwork, and even police sniffer dogs.

But it was easier still, for an unexpected reason. After filling out multiple forms we lined up before a customs guy. When our turn came he looked at our passports. "Ah, Orstrala" he says,"Mark Cahill". What's he talking about, we think, but naturally we say "Da" in our very best Russian. His face brightens. Maybe we will be OK. Then he says "Mark, Mark Mark" with a questioning look on his face. Then the penny drops – Soccer – and we are instant experts. A very 'informed' conversation somehow takes place with gesturing, smiles, hand waving and whatever it takes and he waves us through.

If only we could have recalled the Asian Cup played in Australia in January. The Uzbekistan White Wolves held Asian powerhouse Korea to 0-0 for 90 minutes only to go down 2-0 in extra time. He would have thought we were geniuses.

Meanwhile the boys are still waiting and posing before their cars. It's almost 5 hours before they are through.

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