Koté and Sofiko: Part 1. Football star

All my life I admired this pair of great Georgian cultural figures.

Kote Makharadze is a basketball player since his childhood, an artist by vocation, a holder of the highest standard of humour, a football (soccer) commentator, a husband of Sofiko Chiaureli and intellectual man. Nowadays there are no such men as he was.



If the interlocutor could not remember Kote Makharadze, it was enough just to quote the phrase “as long as ball is in the air, few words about the teams” and the image of the commentator immediately appeared before eyes. There is also an anecdote about him: “And here is Oleg Blokhin with a ball — kick – G-O-O-O-A-L! But, unfortunately, the ball hit the post, it was out of the game, and my assistants are prompting me that it wasn’t Blokhin…

However, let us start from the beginning.

Koté was born November 17, 1926 in Tbilisi. The Russian version of his Georgian name is Constantine, which is translated as “constant (permanent)».  His constancy concerning choice he showed during all his life.

He was successful in sports since his childhood. Cote was endowed with high growth and excellent form. He was engaged in basketball and even achieved some success in this field — he became the champion of Georgia among the youth in the team of «Dinamo» of Tbilisi. Basketball players rarely go dancing afterwards. It is usually «beneath their dignity.» But Koté went. He began his education from the Tbilisi Ballet School and continued in the same Tbilisi Theatre Institute.

From 1948 to 1970 Makharadze played in the Theatre of Shota Rustaveli in Tbilisi. In 1950 he worked as a lecturer at the same theatre institute. And only after that he discovered the profession of a sports commentator. He forgot about basketball and began to show an interest for football.

It should be noted that in addition to other’s talents of Makharadze, he also had a talent to engage any interlocutor into his favourite area of discussion. Even people, who were indifferent or negatively related to football, started to study the rules of the game and watch the matches with great interest after a couple of phrases, which were told by Coté about football or after reading his interview, or watching his football programme on TV etc.. The profession of sports commentator requires being a great journalist, understanding the personalities, knowing the personality of every football player and knowing the hidden motives of every player. I think every person will be interested in such conversations.

However, Kote Makharadze was not enough to be only a sports commentator. In 1972 he decided to combine all the fields of his interest: football, theatre and cinema. He became a professor of Tbilisi State Theatre Institute and one of the organizers and the host of the first in Georgia Ballet Competition «Chabukiani – Balanchine”.

What makes you think that a person is successful in the career? Unclouded, steady career, where only progressive ascending is presented? Alas, it is not like this! I believe that there were fails in the life of Kote Makharadze. But we don’t know about them. Because Koté had the rare gift to behave with dignity, no matter what happens. Especially on TV. He never wriggled. And he always called a spade a spade.

Makharadze’s biography can be a prime example for all those, who have doubts about the choice of two professions. One profession is for the soul, the other is for money. Makharadze combined 5 professions: actor, director, journalist, lecturer, and organizer. He succeeded in all of these professions.

His film works are: «Противостояние» (1985г.), «Выигрыш одного коммерсанта» (1984), «Не верь, что меня уже нет», «Две главы из семейной хроники» (rus) and a huge amount of sport and non-sport documentary, where he worked as a director, journalist and voiceover.

Kote Makharadze was married to two women. His first wife was actress Chahava Medea, the second wife was Sofiko Chiaureli. His heirs (including acting and choreographic careers) were two daughters, son and many grandchildren.


(First family of Makharadze: his wife Medea, daughter Maka (ballet dancer) and granddaughter Nata (actress))

He died in 2002. Cote is buried on a cemetery «Didube Pantheon of Great Men of Georgia» in Tbilisi. Sometime later Sofiko was buried next to him. I think she deserves a separate story. But I’ll talk about her later. And now I will allow myself to quote Kote.

«… For Georgians football was the only way to prove something. There was no gold in Georgia. There was no aluminum, diamonds, oil, stinking gas. The wine was good, yes. Football was the opportunity for us to remind that we are alive, that we are not only the colony. Do you know what the words of Nicholas II were when he heard that tea from China would be cultivated in Georgia because of its suitable climate? Nicholas II said: “Gentlemen, do you want to turn Georgia into a colonial country? It is colonial labour!» – that is how he talked about the victory of Tbilisi «Dinamo» in the Cup Winners Cup and about the whole Georgia. However, he forgot something. He forgot about «Borjomi» water, which cures and quenches the thirst better than any pure Indian tea.

And here some words about Sofiko: “I used to behave like a hooligan. In 1978 during the running commentary from Argentina I made an appointment with Sofiko. We had different codes. Something meant time, something meant seat. Let’s say that 13th meant a number and when it was the 32nd minute of game, I didn’t say: 32nd. I said: 13 minutes left before the end of the first half. And then someone wrote in the newspaper: why the 13th minute?”

And, of course, few words about his legendary phrase “as long as ball is in the air, few words about the teams”. It has its own story. However, Makharadze told that he used this phrase in other context: “I was talking about the Lokomotiv of Tbilisi when I remembered one railway union worker. He told the players: I once played football too and I made a strong kick. So the ball fell down slowly. So the phrase appeared: “as long as ball is in the air, few words about the teams”. There was also another situation. Somehow a lot of people liked another phrase of mine: The seventeenth minute is ending, and the eighteenth minute is coming. Well, I do not understand the funny thing in this phrase. Do you think that I am an idiot, who doesn’t know that after the seventeenth minute eighteenth minute comes? I do not know what you will write about it. While I was talking slowly that the seventeenth minute was about to end, it actually ended. So I continued quickly: and the eighteenth minute is coming. So that is how it was.»

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