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 Culture 15

Sports among Syriacs

One of the sports in which Syriacs have succeeded in Europe is football. In Sweden, both Assyriska and Syrianska football clubs from Södertälje reached the Premiere League, while in Germany and other European countries they managed to establish clubs with good players. Syriac football players have also joined other national and international football clubs.

One way to explain the popularity of playing football among Syriacs is that it has been a low threshold to join football clubs. In Europe, it is a folk sport and often kids start playing outside on the street before joining a club.

What we would call ‘sports’ in the West has often been referred to in terms of tёštecёnye “games” in Turabdin. Israel Makko published a book titled Assyrische Heimatspiele (Augsburg, 2003). His title also expresses this connotation, although many of the games discussed in his book can be considered sport activities. In some villages, there were games or sports that were more common than in other villages. For instance, in around the 1960s some people from the village Mzizaḥ saw men from Mёḏyaḏ running. The people of Mzizaḥ did not know why these men were running and shouted at them: “Stop, stop, what is wrong, why are you running?” Among themselves, they thought most probably Kurds were chasing them and that is why they are running away so fast. However, the men from Mёḏyaḍ tried to explain that they were doing sports, and that they were running because they wanted to become fit.