Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Farid Gayibov gave an interview with Trend.
Minister, as 2022 comes to a close, how do you assess the past year? For what events, and successes is it remembered? What are the goals outlined for the coming years?
- Currently, we reflect on the passing year, analyze our activities, observe successes and failures, and plan future events. We believe that in general, 2022 was quite successful for our national sport. Our athletes took part in huge international competitions. I would like to emphasize the successful participation of our sportsmen in the Islamic Solidarity Games. I am pleased with the high results and new achievements of our athletes. Almost every federation can be proud of such achievements. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the sports community of the country, including all federations and sports clubs.
Our goal for the coming years is the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Therefore, all our attention is now focused on this. We are facing a very difficult task and we have little time. Sports federations have had a very decent year. They have managed to build effective cooperation, and they have a difficult year indeed ahead of them—a year of serious competitions, selections, and qualifications. Nevertheless, we have a resolute attitude, and I believe that our results will be good.
International rowing competitions were held on the liberated territories. Are there plans to hold such international competitions in Karabakh again?
- Cycling and chess competitions were held in Shusha this year. Chess tournaments will become traditional, and we plan to hold bicycle races annually. The Rowing Federation held two international competitions in Sugovushan. Athletes from 4 countries took part in the first competition, and in the second, after 5 months, there were already 12 participating countries. This indicates a high level of organization in the competition, and this did not go unnoticed by international sports organizations.
The Rowing Federation is quite ambitious, and I am sure they will not stop; the number of participants will grow. Naturally, the format of the competition will also develop. I was lucky enough to attend both competitions. Due to the distance, it is still difficult to hold some tournaments in Sugovushan. Many major competitions are held in Mingachevir since it is relatively close and has developed infrastructure and all the relevant conditions. Nevertheless, we keep developing the sports infrastructure of Sugovushan. There is a modern Tartar Olympic Sports Complex nearby, where the team can stay.
Youth policy in our country is implemented at a high level. How is the issue of the ministry's work with youth established? What kind of work is being done in this direction?
We have always wanted to see this field constantly developing, and it is so. This area is the most vulnerable. Our youth covers the age range of 14–29 years. There are more than 300 youth organizations in the country. In all spheres, our youth make up the majority. Naturally, we have to be very careful here. We have a youth policy, but it is important how we implement it and what tools we use. Here we must always keep up with modernity, and be on the alert. President Ilham Aliyev attaches great importance to this. On February 2, at an event dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Youth Day, the head of state talked with young people, answered their questions, and sent them messages. One of the main messages was that the Azerbaijani people are the victorious people and that our youth is the representation of these victorious people. We are on a very responsible and glorious path, and we must further continue our victories in every area.
We work closely with youth organizations. In addition, we have Youth Houses in the regions, where all conditions are created for the development and leisure of our youth. We are thinking about organizing more effective work with young people in regions where there are no Youth Houses. We constantly hold meetings with them. We are interested in their problems.
What kind of work is being done to develop sports in our regions and attract young people to this area? What activities are planned in this regard in the future?
- This year, we have asked a lot of federations to hold their events in the regions. We have the conditions and Olympic complexes for this. The more such events are held in the regions, the greater the flow to the Olympic complexes. We ask the federations to train local specialists or send experts to the regions in order to develop their skills in the sports field. Much work needs to be done in this direction, which requires a lot of time and effort. As we have already noted, it is necessary to strengthen the promotion of sports and mass events. Sometimes, it is suggested to pay for sports activities. But the presence of paid clubs in non-Olympic sports, I believe, is a normal phenomenon. They are simply necessary for the development of coaches. But along with them, many different sports in our Olympic complexes are free.
What work is underway on the construction of which sports complexes on the liberated territories?
- A large stadium is planned to be built in Aghdam. In general, many sports facilities are planned to be built in the Karabakh region. These are plans that are currently in the development stage, so I cannot really say the exact time of implementation. However, the task is set, and work on it is underway.
What kind of work is being done to develop winter sports in our country?
- This year I attended the Winter Olympic Games for the first time. As a minister and a citizen, I would like to see winter sports development in our country as well. In this regard, I would like to note that an ice rink may start operating in Baku in the first months of the new year. Negotiations are already underway in this direction.