Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller's remarks at the First U.S.-Kyrgyz Friendship
Basketball Tournament closing ceremony
Bishkek, Sport Palace
November 20, 2009
Thank you all for coming today to celebrate American/Kyrgyz sports cooperation. I
particularly want to say thank you to my friend - the Director of the State Agency on Sports
and Physical Culture Aidarbek Kerimkulov for joining me here today.
I also want to thank the Basketball Federation for their work in organizing this tournament
and congratulate them on their successes with the Forward professional basketball league.
Most of all, I want to congratulate the participants of the first Kyrgyz-American Basketball
Friendship Tournament. This tournament is a wonderful symbol of the strong bond between
our two nations.
Sports are a shared cultural passion that can bring people together across the divisions of
geography, race, gender and religion. They are a powerful source of national pride, but at
the same time convey mutual respect and help improve international understanding when
we play by the same rules and learn about each other.
For these reasons, the American government supports sports cooperation. Last year, we
brought NBA star and Olympic gold medalist Sam Perkins to Kyrgyzstan. We sent the youth
basketball team survivors of last August’s terrible plane crash to America to play with our
young people. The group was led by coach Baktiar Kadyrov, a good friend of America and a
true patriot and hero of Kyrgyzstan [GESTURE TO HIM, STARTING APPLAUSE]. They saw
the huge role sports play in American culture, education, economy, and in our daily lives.
We are now working with them to expand the sports culture in Kyrgyzstan, traveling to all
the regions of your great country to conduct basketball master classes and discuss sports
with young people.
This tournament is the result of those trips, but is not the only example of our sports
cooperation. America participated for the first time this summer in the International Issyk