Football came to Kazakhstan in the early 1900s and one of the most vivid evidences of the game’s introduction in the Great Steppe was the story of Yarysh, the first football club in the Kazakh history
Yarysh was founded in 1913 and based in Semipalatinsk (today known as Semey), a leading economic and cultural center in Kazakhstan back in 19th and 20th centuries. It’s well known that Yarysh’s squad included Mukhtar Auezov. Auezov was a great writer, activist and scholar, one of the most iconic figures of the Kazakh culture. He is the author of the famous epic novel "The Path of Abai" which is regarded as a cornerstone of classic Kazakh literature published in many languages all over the world.
Mukhtar Auezov was among the likes of Akhmetsalim Karimov (Yarysh’s captain), Kasymkhan Mukhammedov, Salakh Khismatullin, Ziyatdin Ryspayev, Mukhammed Saidashev, Yunus Nigmatullin, Amirzhan Syzdykov, Gabdulkhan Gabbasov, Mukhamedulla Kurmanov, Gusman Yambushev, Sabyrzhan Akhmedshin, with all of them entering history as the first portents of Kazakhstan football.
The excerpts from historical sources
Salakh Khismatullin shared his impressions of the experience as Yarysh player on the pages of the local newspaper.
“At the beginning, we played in all sort of places – mainly on the square in front of the Musin’s mill where there is the hardware plant now, as well as on the market square, in front of the Seminary, the present location of the Teachers Training School... Mukhtar Auezov played in the second team. He was a good footballer.”
Here is another article published by historian Ye. Yudin describing Auezov’s brilliance on the football pitch:
“The game between the local gymnasium team and Yarysh was exciting, with plenty of sharpness. Having gathered on the periphery of the pitch, the fans cheered both teams, yet the best part of exclamations heard was “Yarysh, algha!” (Yarysh go ahead!). One of the students challenged the opposing midfielder, but he got around him, then noticed a move from left winger and found him with precise pass before pushing himself forward. The left winger discerned the manoeuvre his teammate intended and responded with his accurate and well-timed pass. The midfielder outran the defenders and made no delay to take an attempt on goal and into the top corner. Yarysh players were exhausted but unmeasurably happy leaving the pitch. Midfielder Mukhtar Auezov and left winger Salakh Khismatullin were laughing, recalling the way they managed to confuse the rival defense.”
Murat Auezov on football
In one of his recent interviews, respected culture expert Murat Auezov, the son of Mukhtar Auezov reflected on football and its big role in social and cultural life:
“It’s been a long ago since football came into my life. During my student years I was a goalkeeper of the team of the Institute of Philosophy and Law under the Kazakh SSR Academy of Sciences. It’s nice to remember that our team finished runners-up in the interacademic competition to claim honourable second place.
“Generally speaking, the Auezovs have a family bond with football indeed. The head of our family, Mukhtar Auezov, as 16-year-old boy back in 1913, was a midfielder at one of the first Kazakhstan teams, Yarysh Semipalatinsk. There are signs showing us that the Priirtyshye jigits (brave young men living on the banks of Irtysh River) shared an immense fascination with this astounding game which triumphantly marched through cities and countries at that time.
“Looking back at the people who were the first ever to experience ardor and message of the game – Mukhtar Auezov, his Yarysh teammates, common friends and associates – I’d like to remind that it was them who had been straightly related to Alash Orda national liberation movement. They were looking for a fulcrum to save their land and identity, their freedom. And partially they made it out in the magic of football and have been the first to distinguish the enchantment of the sport and to tell people about it.”