I will be posting some of the shirts I acquired before starting this blog, and after posting some pictures of Tajik stadiums I thought I should start the process of catching up with a shirt from the Tajik side Istiklol Dushanbe. It is made by the Chinese manufacturer Li-Ning Sports, a clear example of the economic influence China has in Tajikistan. Tajikistan shares an Eastern border with China, and China is more than willing to go head to head with Russia in a battle for influence over Central Asia, a 21st century Great Game. This influence reaches into many sectors, including energy and infrastructure (Chinese prisoners build tunnels in Tajikistan), transportation (many of the newer city busses in Dushanbe sport Chinese characters), and–apparently–sporting goods.

Although the material feels quality enough–reminiscent of some late 90s Puma shirts–I still cant help but feel it will come apart if I wash it too much. As such, I’ve resorted to hand washing, since I dont want to lose a shirt that was so difficult to obtain. Finding an official shirt in Tajikistan is very difficult. The Li-Ning store on Rudaki avenue in Dushanbe told me that they had no shirts available (other than the one on the mannequin standing in the window which was apparently not for sale), but the Li-Ning branch in Tajikistan’s second city, Khujand, was a different story. At first they too were reluctant to sell their one example of the shirt  (Why is there only shirt per store per city that isn’t even available for purchase?) which was, again, gracing a mannequin in the store-front window. After a little bit of pleading and  repeated assurances that I would pay them, the 3 shopkeepers relented–but not before they had a good laugh at the American guy who would not be deterred in his search for an official shirt from Tajikistan.

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The badge is a quality embroidery, despite being on the wrong side of the chest. Apparently, Li Ning sports has more of a hold on the player’s allegiance than their team:

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A Li-Ning billboard, advertising the shirts that….aren’t really on sale. One interesting linguistic fact here, that my friend Kevin and I noticed. The Tajik below the team’s picture reads “ИНТИXОБИ МО”, which translates as “Our Choice”. This is very similar to the terminology used in many Spanish-speaking countries for their nation sides–“La Selección“. Interesting, since Tajikistan is nowhere near Spain. Or El Salvador.

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