THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

SioniBolnisi

Sasha the Over-Friendly Lion is a popular children's character in Georgia, featuring first in illustrated short stories, later cartoons and, in 2012, a full-length feature film, Sasha The Over-Friendly Lion and the Anti-Matter Bomb. This received mixed reviews, as, initially intended for the core demographic of under-eights, some scenes contained explicit blood-letting and themes of mental illness. Plans for the sequel, Sasha's Secret Eating Habits, have been put on hold for the time being.

The original stories were more innocent, the plots of which dealt, formulaically enough, with the lion befriending an orphan or a beggar or someone who had fallen on hard times, and, through friendliness, showed them a way to trust people again. Typically, the befriended person broke off the relationship at the end of the story because Sasha had slightly overstepped the mark - coming round to visit too often and at meal times, then staying too long and ignoring all non-verbal communication to this effect. But it didn't matter because Sasha always found a new friend in the next story.

FC Sioni Bolnisi was founded by a small group of Georgians whose bonds of friendship were strengthened and made permanent through a never-ending loop of thank you cards begun ten years earlier when one of them bought the others a calendar. Cameron Carter

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