Volleyball club “Botev”

60 years volleyball in Lukovit

From the memories of Atanas Malchev:

"Lukovit is one among few towns in Bulgaria which has traditions in volleyball. Our teams and competitors managed to bring fame to our town by winning great victories on national and international “battlegrounds”. As a living witness of the volleyball’s development in our town, I can tell you my memories from the first years, from the very beginning of the volleyball organization. My memories are based on my personal involvement as a competitor, as a coach and manager.

The years after September 9, 1944, were very hard for Bulgaria, for the national sports this was a new and hard beginning. Kunio Kostov Boiadjiev was the brave one who decided to deal with the tough task - to develop the volleyball in Lukovit. Boiadjiev, who used to work as a painter at the local Cultural Community Center, was an open minded person, as well as educated. It was very difficult to find a book at the library, which he hasn’t already red at least twice.

He was the one, who first before others was buying every single new edition, released on the book market. In 1948, me, and other youths were gravitating around him, willing to help him with his work, just to let us watch movies for free. We were helping him with his work in the art studio - we were making posters. Some of us, Atanas Malchev, A. Lilovski and others, learned to draw, afterwards it appeared helpful, and I. Daskalov even gained professional skills and used them until he finally got retired. It was Boiadjiev’s idea to organize sport activities for us. The first objective, that had to be accomplished, was the actual building of volleyball play ground at the school yard. For that purpose he used his main asset - his friends: Spas Ivanov (Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party), Dimitar Hadjiev (teacher), Astardjiev (chemist), Vlado Dimitrov (lawyer), Marko Markov (technician), Ivan Tolumbev, Vasil Tzakov, Ivan Benchev, Todor Ninov, Hristo Borisov, Krastio Petelev and many others. We, all young people in the town, wanted to help. From sunrise until sunset we were putting bricks, in order to cover the terrain. And the result quickly followed – we had on our disposal a perfect place to practice volleyball. So, we started to train hard. We’re training under the Boiadjiev’s guidance. The very first team consisted of 12 boys and girls, and also several men.

 And if 1948, was the year of preparation, organization and creation, 1949-1950 was the time to achieve the first activities in volleyball competitions. At that time balls we played with were with low quality, produced from different kinds of materials, thus they lost proper oval shape. And that was the true reason, for just in several years, to be introduced a new way to serve the ball, called “balloon” – spinning and winding one. So it was established a strict order to be given a ball to play.

One day, I remember it was August 1950, K. Boiadjiev gave some money and dispatched me to Sofia, to pay a visit to T. Dokov, in order to buy volleyballs with better quality. He lived in a mansard together with Hristo Donchev- national athletics competitor. We went to the Supreme Committee of Physical Education and Sports to an audience with Shopov and Stoyanov, both coaches, and already friends of ours after several visits in Lukovit. Unfortunately they couldn’t do much on the matter, so we were forced to ask general Stoichev for help, at that time he was Chairman of the Supreme Committee. He was well aware of the volleyball’s development in our town, so he gave us a hand.

Venko Kumanov (son of Simeon Kumanov, who was shot down in 1944) was working in Israel and sent us two balls, which we used only in official matches.

Under Boiadjiev’s initiative the Board of the team put the accent on matches with stronger teams, such as “Akademik”, “Cherveno zname”, “Levski”, “Chervena zvezda” (the team of the soviet citizens in Bulgaria), “Minior Pernik” etc..

In 1949, the first province volleyball tournament was conducted. “Cherveno zname – Lukovit” achieved victory against the team form village of Telish. In some of the friendly matches with stronger opponents form Sofia, we used to have help from a friend of mine, Hristo Spasunin, a competitor of “Benkovski – Teteven”.

An year to remember was 1950, when we were hosts to the national teams of Bulgaria. The happening was preceded by huge organization, and all of us felt great enthusiasm – youths and elder people, everyone was there. We took 350 chairs and benches from the Cultural Community Center, there were spectators climbed even on trees and roofs. The women played against our men’s team and won, after that the two men teams played against each other. It was July, 1950, when the Board dispatched me in Sofia to a volleyball coach course. The same year we had a significant visit from national competitors.

In August 1950, together with Boiadjiev, we made a decision to create another team in the town, aiming to encompass larger number of competitors, and also to put a start of a domestic competition, seeking better results. The new team was “Spartak” from the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Ivan Marinov as a Chairman. It has been built another volleyball playground, right beside the church.

During that period a significant contribution has been brought by Nikolai Velkov. In 1953, he and Hristo Donchev were the first youths to graduate the National Sports Academy, Sofia. No other but N. Velkov was the first captain of our men’s team. All of us had deep respect that’s why we used to call him “bai Kolio”. His work experience as a sports specialist was gained in Pleven. He had the role of sports manager at the Province Committee, coach of “Spartak – Pleven” and a teacher at the Sports High School. 

From the very beginning many young people joined the team and as it turned out the sport base we had was insufficient. Boiadjiev, who put his heart and soul in this mission – his art studio was something like “military headquarters”, suggested a volleyball stadium to be build. In 1953, just two years after that, the volleyball stadium was a fact. It consisted of two playgrounds, dressing rooms and stands. That stadium was a result of enormous quantity of hard work, all done by the people - everybody was doing his best to help. Over 80 courses with ox cart were done to bring stones from the river; over 70 courses were done by the only available truck from the local Agricultural Co-operative, in order to bring cinder from the nearest town Cherven briag. I remember the driver, we used to call him Kolio Nabojnia (the Devotional). During those years, the volleyball became a well spread and popular sport. More than 7 local teams fought at the town’s tournaments.


The first competitors were: for the men’s team “Cherveno zname” – Spas Ivanov, Nikolai Velkov, Todor Dokov, Cvetan Valchev, Ilia Chorbanov, Ivan Bonev, Veselin Nikolov, Atanas Malchev.

Women’s team: Veneta Nikolaeva, Ceca Peteleva, Michka Boiadjieva, Evgenia Nenova, Nikolinka Krasteva, Nadka Vasileva, Nadka Rakovska, Luba Dokova, Ceca and Dasha Vasilevi, Ivanka Chorbanova, Maria Hinova and Ana Stefanova.

Youths “Cherveno zname”: Ivan Bonev, Veselin Nikolov, Angel Kesiov, Vasko Tzokov, Ivan Daskalov, Lazar Tzanov, Iordan Filipov, Iordan Marinov and Mihail Sarbinov.

Girls: Ganka Angelova, Liliana Nencheva, Eli Gencheva, Maria Chipilova, Violeta Boneva, Nadka Vasileva, Kalina Dimitrova.

“Spartak”: Atanas Malchev, Dragomir Valev, Varban Dinkov, Vasil Ivanov, Ivan Laskov, Ivan Nikolov, Nesho Hristov, Pantalei Dimitrov, Georgi Cakov. The team lasted for three years before its players Malchev, Dimitrov, Ivanov and Dinkov to be transferred to “Spartak-Pleven”. In 1953, “Spartak-Pleven” won second place during National Tournament, held in Stara Zagora.