The Bulgarian evolution
Aug. 5, 2020 @ 11:45 UTC
When the Bulgarian national touch team runs on to the field for the very first time everyone in the world of Touch will be supporting them, even the opposing team.
One of FIT's newest members will have no natural rivals, according to Stefan Doychev the President of Bulgaria Touch. Team Italy, being the Federation of International Touch member geographically closest to Bulgaria, might have to be drafted as the bad guy and a rivalry manufactured. More probable is that the expansion of Touch into other Eastern European countries will bring about a more natural rival, Serbia or Hungary perhaps.
The Republic of Bulgaria is a former satellite country of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. It is about half the size of England in land area and is bordered by the Black Sea, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Greece and Northern Macedonia. Bulgaria has been a member of the security alliance NATO since 2004 and a member of the European Union since 2007. The capital city is Sofia and it has a population of 7 million.
Federation of International Touch’s Adam Collins interviewed two of the pioneers of Touch in Bulgaria recently for the association’s VLOG Set of Six and discovered some very positive information about the development of Touch in the newest member of the FIT.
Transitioning from rugby
Stefan, pictured with brother Martin on Bulgarian television recently, is a pivotal figure in the establishment of Touch in a country whose sporting life has been dominated by Football. He comes from a Rugby background and told Adam that there has only been an organised competition for the last year. Before that, it was used a little by Rugby teams in training and basically in park Touch football.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has impacted the fledgling competition but according to Stefan recommenced in early June. He has appeared on Bulgarian television to promote touch as a non- contact sport that can be played by children, men and women of all ages, with just a ball and a field required. Undoubtedly, Stefan will be part of the first men's Bulgarian Touch team. Indeed, he could very well be head of team selection, the Coach and the Captain.
Snezhina Marinova also comes to Touch from Rugby. She told Adam that there were only six or seven women’s rugby teams in the whole of Bulgaria and consequently the number of female players in Touch is small. Enthusiasm levels are high though as evidenced by Snezhina’s beaming smile throughout the interview.
It was also noted by Stefan that those beginning to play Touch are now not exclusively coming from Rugby, but a variety of sports and also people who previously have not played organised sport of any kind.
Promoting Touch in schools
David Parker, Head of FIT youth development joined the discussion and gave some great advice on the importance of developing Touch in Bulgaria at the youth level and not just concentrating on National adult teams. Approaching schools and offering to show children at schools what Touch is through an introductory skills session was also suggested as an avenue for advancing and developing knowledge of Touch. Also holding a ‘come and try’ day for children outside of school was mentioned. David also suggested that the obvious starting point for Bulgaria in international competition was in Europe.
What a coup it is for the FIT to have Bulgaria Touch in the fold now. It will be a truly memorable day when the ferocious Bulgarians run out on to the field in international competition.