Nissa on tour: Tajikistan
Marie-Julie Fossoud, a native of Nice and a student in the humanities, spent seven months in Central Asia as part of her studies. Setting off with a Gym flag, the young woman made the red and black colours shine brightly in these faraway lands.
"We're going to cross the whole world to show you how proud we are..." This song from the south of France found its echo in the story of Marie-Julie Fossoud and her flag. A student in the humanities, the 24-year-old completed a seven-month diplomatic internship at the French embassy in Tajikistan from 28 November 2022 to 1 July 2023. "I'm working on the Iran and Central Asia region," she explains. "I speak Persian and it's the only open country at the moment where Persian is spoken, Afghanistan and Iran being inaccessible."
Born in the most beautiful city in the world, Marie-Julie is very attached to Nice: "It's my home. It's a bit of a nerve centre. I have to move all over the world because of the job and studies I want to do. But you always come back to the seaside."
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan... The flag emblazoned with the eagle followed Marie-Julie throughout her Asian journey: "In theory, it's the first OGC Nice flag to be found in this part of the world. That's what I thought was funny: I don't think there have been many club flags that have travelled around Central Asia.
Marie-Julie took the opportunity to immortalise several moments with the Gym flag, lost in the middle of nowhere, such as "this photo on a donkey deep in the Uzbek mountains, in a small village with about thirty houses" or this shot with her father, "at a peak of about 3,000 metres, at the very beginning of the Himalayas".
These photos enabled Marie-Julie to see that the popularity of Les Rouge et Noir had spread beyond Asia, in a part of the world where football is not the king of sports and remains less popular than combat sports. "Quite a few people recognised the flag, particularly when I was in Kazakhstan," explained the surprised student. "I took a photo at sunset at a fairly high point, and several young Kazakhs said to me 'Nissa la Bella'. I was quite surprised that they knew."
It was the same story in Samarkand, Uzbekistan: "At the Registan, one of the historic monuments on the Silk Road, one of the site's guardians recognised OGC Nice, and told us they were a very good team."
After seven months of travelling, Marie-Julie's flag ended up in a bar in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan - "the Public Bar, a sort of Tajik-style Irish pub" - where it rests in good company, close to those of Inter Milan, FC Barcelona and Napoli. Until the next trip.