GIBRALTAR’S Minister for Sport has met his counterpart in Azerbaijan after travelling to the central Asian country for a European junior basketball championship.

Minister Steven Linares travelled with Gibraltar’s Under-18 national basketball team ‘on his own volition’, a government statement said.

He took time off to meet Azerbaijani Minister Farid Gayibov and discussed the possibility of carrying out youth exchanges.

Gibraltar’s youngsters were taking part in Group C of the FIBA U18 basketball tournament in the country.

Gibraltar’s teens lost their first two league matches against Luxembourg and San Marino before clashing with sporting rivals Andorra.

The matches are being televised live on the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) online video channel.

Former mayor, Gibraltar Amateur Basketball Association president and FIBA Europe member accompanied the players and coaches on the trip.

Linares, a keen basketball fan, made the long journey to support the local boys but also took time to talk the sports minister of Azerbaijan.

The pair spoke about the possibility of having Azerbaijani sports teams use Gibraltar as a stopping point when they compete in Western Europe.

“It was a pleasure to have been able to meet up with my counterpart in Azerbaijan, Mr Farid Gayibov,” Linares said in a sports ministry statement.

“We had a great discussion on how we could cooperate in the future since we both believe we will be encountering teams from Azerbaijan more often.”

Lincoln Red Imps FC travelled to the country for their Champions League qualifying round against on Qarabag FK.

The Gibraltar Champions lost 4-0 on the night and 6-1 across the two legs.

And Linares added: “This may be the first official contact with this country but I reckon it will not be the last.”

Azerbaijan is a mainly Muslim country that used to be part of the USSR and has over 10 million people.

Its capital Baku has its own Unesco World Heritage in the old city.


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