SPORTS

«NIKI»

Grigoris Nikolaos Chatzinikolaou

Thrasyvoulos Paxinos

Georgia Katantoni

Georgios Michailidis

Despina Kozaki

Gianna Kotzagiotou

Thalia Koutroumanidou

The struggle was the beginning. A struggle to survive, excel, be distinguished. Then came competition: race, fight, stone… Isn’t all that part of a man’s daily-life struggle?
It’s just that the prizes are different. There you have olive and laureate crowns, panathenaean amphorae and medals, while here in life you have bread, work, peace and mental tranquility and relief. But anxieties can be found everywhere, both in stadiums and in the daily race.
One would say that man has transferred all his daily anxieties to the race course where they were turned into events. They were brought before spectators and became a celebration. A celebration with a prize, where the best athlete would be the one who would overcome all obstacles with ease.

Man early realized that life was a race and the race was a representation of life. A strong body, a clear mind, a brave heart and victory comes along with the prizes.

«NIKI»

 

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And here is the time for more sport. We deserve exactly as much as you, locals. Watch us compete in the fields! Apollon Kalamaria FC, AEK FC, Panionios FC and, in our city, Nea Ionia of Magnisia, with the initial name “Volos Refugees’ Sports Club” (1924), “Refugeal” in brief, and later on “NIKI Sports Club” (1926).

The first headquarters were close to the beach, in the junction of the streets Argonafton and Agiou Nikolaou, in the same building where today is Kypseli Hotel. Sport activities were held in Georgiou A square. The locker rooms were in "Kartalio", in the junction of the streets Polymeri and Kassaveti. At the same time, they abandoned their first Byzantine colors – yellow and black – and adopted the colors of the Greek flag as a verification of the Greek origins of Asia Minor people. NIKI, since their foundation and up to the middle of the 60s, exclusively incorporated people from Nea Ionia.

The pioneers (1924 – 1934):
Magoulas Pantelis (leader and afterwards president of Niki for many decades), Sotiropoulos, Zaderiou, Farzan, Pantelaras, Aidinlis, Maloudis, Koutsomitakis, Katsalis Lefteris (the first goalkeeper), Kotzoglou, Synanidis, Pantelidis, Kotzamanidis Andreas, Gametis Nikos, Patouchas Ioannis, Loukidis, Michailatsos Alexandros, Papazoglou Chrysostomos, Papazoglou Priamos, Votsis, Papargyropoulos, Chrysafis, Tserveniotis, Psathas G., Minysiou Anastasios, Zanteriou, Vouroukos, Sougioultzopoulos.
The team line-up that followed was (1935 – 1946):
Minaretzopoulos Dimitrios (known as Kogias), Gametis Nikos, Karafyloglou Petros, Garyfallou, Vernikas Anastasios, Papazoglou Eleftherios, Tarzentis Dimitrios (second goalkeeper), Kokkinakis Dimitrios, Zografos Georgios, Paraskevas Manolis, Pasmatzidis Evangelos, Pantazopoulos Evangelos, Alexandridis Alexandros, Kopanos Antonis, Kopanos Stelios, Nikolaou Lefteris, Samios Sotiris (goalkeeper).
Here are some worthy followers of the Niki FC course to the First Division:
Iliadakis Georgios, Kosmidis Vasilios, Fragoulakis Evangelos, Mitzileos Stelios, Koroneos Georgios, Katsalis Stavros, Devriadis Nikolaos, Maniatakis Anastasios, Vatsios Charalabos, Zanteroglou Charalabos, Spanakis Nikolaos, Kontogiannis Thodoris, Ntafis Stavros, Kasapleris Panagiotis, Marsouvanidis Giorgos, Mavros Konstantinos, Kalliontzis Eleftherios, Zanteroglou Christos, Kolovos Dimosthenis, Tsiberidis Giorgos, Tzinis Nikolaos, Karailiou Georgios, Lales Dimitris, Andreou, Morakis Antonios, Kouklakis, Giakakoglou.
This line-up and the historical events of 1950 – 1953 related to the team are mentioned in the abstract from the personal diary of Manolis Paraskevas. Manolis was born in 1928, in Nea Ionia, from English parents residing on the islands. He was involved in football by participating in the Second team of Niki from 1945 to 1946 and in the First team of Niki from 1947 to 1955.

“…The first football field we inaugurated was “Charilaou” of Aris Salonica. In 1950, we went there on the steam boat named “Eleni” and played in two matches, one against Aris on Sunday and one against Apollon Kalamaria on Wednesday. Back then, Aris was a really great team as three-four of their players participated in the National Team: Veliadis, goalkeeper, Paraschos and Tsaganias, defenders, and Rizos – and Papadakis. They finally managed to even the score to 2-2 almost at the end of the match. We also impressed while playing against Apollon on Wednesday and won by 3-1. The Presidents of PAOK FC and IRAKLIS OF used to give blank checks to the great President, Pantelis Magoulas, so that he would write down any amount of money he wanted to play against us and move on with the stadiums inaugurations. The second one was in Trikala named “Kitrilakio”. The result of the match Mikti Trikalon vs. Niki was 0-3, with Kostas Zogas as coach. The third in a row was the stadium of Karditsa named “Petzopoulou”. Of course, once again we were winners.
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The greatest and most important match in the history of the team was held in Salonica, namely in the stadium of PAOK FC named “Touba”. For us it was a great honor and responsibility that, for the first time in our history, our team, Niki, would be watched and become known by all Greeks. We participated in the formation of the first championship in Greece with only six teams as participants which were the champions of separate Associations from all districts of Greece. It was Panathinaikos and AEK representing the capital (Athens), Olympiakos from Piraeus, PAOK from Central Macedonia (Salonica), Niki representing Thessalia, and Panachaiki Patras representing Southern Greece and Peloponnese.
The line-up in that great match was as follows: Stavros Katsalis (goalkeeper), Manolis Paraskevas (left back), Tasos Maniatakis (centre back), Vandelis Pasmatzidis (right back), Thodoros Kontogiannis (right half), Stavros Ntafis (left half), Mpampis Zanteroglou (right-wing striker), Lefteris Kalliotzis (left striker) and Pantazopoulos Vangelis (left-wing striker).
We started the match in a full stadium and lots of our own supporters. The first ten minutes were hard and we were in danger of receiving a goal. That was it! We turned into wild beasts and, disregarding everything, we all played with great passion and determination which quickly led to a result and we managed to score two goals in the first half. You can have an idea about our feelings as our opponent was not an ordinary team but an equal and quite strong one – a team to fear that terrorized even the teams of Salonica. We remained calm after changing outfits, as the field was full of mud and coal dust that had been spread out in the morning so that the match wouldn’t be postponed in case of rain. In the second half, there was a titanic struggle. They managed to score a goal against us and things were going worse. Then, all of us and with encouragement from our supporters, we played the best and hardest we could, resulting in a third goal against them.
Of course I am letting you understand and imagine the celebrations that began in Salonica and continued in Volos! The match was held on the last Carnival Sunday of 1953. We all wanted to go back to Volos – Nea Ionia as fast as possible. We took the midnight train from Salonica, the Acropolis Express, and arrived in Volos at dawn. It is hard to describe what happened - no words can match the reality we experienced. We celebrated for more than a week as we were beginning to realize what we had accomplished!
It was from that moment that the Club began being glorified and the name NIKI (victory) became a symbol and gave wings to all the regional clubs. Even at the urban centers of Athens, Piraeus and Salonica, we were their equal opponents as in all our matches; we enjoyed admiration and received good reviews.

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Of course, later on, the team acquired the confidence of the great central teams and continued their glorified course throughout the 60’s. With lots of new, third-generation players who were skilled and numerous, I would like to focus on the period of Maniatakis, Devriadis, Mitzileos, Stavros Katsalis, Theodoros Kontogiannis, Stavros Ntafis, Panagiotis Kasapleris, Giorgos Karailios, Mpampis and Christos Zanteroglou, Kostas Mavros, Nikos Spanakis, Lefteris Kalliotzis, Nikos Tzinis, Giorgos Marsouvanidis, G. Tsimperidis, Dimosthenis Kolovos, Giorgos Kazanidis and others who participated as substitutes. With these young men and for fifteen years, Niki remained in the national championship of the First and Second Division. This was the team of the post-war years, namely between 1945 and 1975, a thirty-year history that still continues as Niki still exists and, in due time, will find again its path to glory and the first divisions of the Greek football”.

The following verses were inspired by our players from the great victory of Salonica:

Long live Katsalis,
and our craftsman, Spanakis,
our half, Kontogiannis,
and our rock, Maniatakis.

may Ntafis be healthy,
and our striker, Mpampis (Zanteroglou),
our back, Vangelakis (Pasmatzidis),
and old-Manolakis (Paraskevas).

Long live our leader,
along with Lefteris (Kalliotzis)
and Mavros, our joker card,
will get it to the nets.

(From the archive of Manolis Paraskevas)

The stadium of Niki hosted, for several years, the Gymnastic Performances of Nea Ionia High School.

Apart from Niki, other teams that served as a medium for developing new players were “Apollon”, “Atlas”, “Sfendoni” and “Iraklis”.

Niki was not just football-oriented. Some excellent athletes emerged from the team, who also became distinguished in the field events. Bosinakis, G. Fragoulis, Ap. Trigonis were distinguished in filed races, long and triple jump (1927). Throughout its ceaseless course, more great athletes will emerge: Nikolaos and Kostas Diamantis and M. Pantelidis. In shot put, Tasos Maniatakis and Nikos Stamatiou. In the long jump, Marsouvanidis, Lales, Papageorgiou, in the relay, Kravaritis, in the point-to-point race of 5000m, Mavros, in the races of 500 and 1500m, D. Kokkinakis and N. Miamis.
In 1946, the Niki volleyball team of men is founded and, in 1955, the basketball team of men, who will win the regional championship of 1958. Participants in the team were Makis Kesemidis, Giorgos Lefakis, Nikolaos Miamis, A. Paxinos and others. Younger followers were Giorgos Katsalis, Stavros Vafiadis, Leonidas Theofilou, Michalis Theofilou and others.
In 1956, the Niki basketball team of women is founded, the cyclist team in 1957 and other teams were to follow with the participation of the younger generation and the orientation towards almost every sport activities.

On October 19th 1947, newspaper Thesalia has an article on the records achieved by the athletes of Volos Gymnastic Club before the war, till 1940, and after the war, between 1946 and 1947. Among the names of those who were distinguished, the second-generation athletes from Asia Minor, Grigoris Chatzinikolaou and Charilaos Maniadakis are highly mentioned.

 

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Grigoris Nikolaos Chatzinikolaou

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Grigoris Chatzinikolaou was born in Smyrna in 1920. His father, Nikolaos, and his mother, Evangelia, originated from Aidini. Unfortunately, the family's destiny brought them, as well as many other Greeks from Asia Minor, to Greece as refugees in 1922. Chatzinikolaou family came on a trade ship to Piraeus and, from there, to Volos. Grigoris graduated from Volos School of Trade and at the same time he was involved in field sports. His performance and distinctions in field sports from 1936 – 1940 and especially in the triple jump gave him gold medals in local and Panhellenic events.
However, the clouds of war covered Greece once again and Grigoris Chatzinikolaou was found in Egypt. His involvement in sports continued after the war (1947 – 1957).

He made great success and won the first place in the sporting events of race, long jump, high jump and pole vault and left a rich collection of medals, distinctions and photographs. He was an active member of the administrative board of Volos Gymnastic Club, in which he began his sporting career.

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Thrasyvoulos Paxinos

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He was born in Nea Ionia in 1959. He is the son of Sokratis and Nitsa Paxinou. He graduated from the Athens National Academy of Physical Education and continued his post-graduate and doctorate studies in the field of Sports. Since 1988, he has been a regular professor of Physical Education in the Army-Cadets Military School and has participated as a consultant in national organizations. In a young age, he was a track athlete.

He won first place in the Panhellenic teenage tournament in 1977 and first in the Panhellenic high-school student tournament and achieved a new Greek record that remained for five years. He was a member of the National team, with many participations and distinctions in international tournaments. He possesses a rich personal collection of trophies, medals, distinctions and photographs.

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Georgia Katantoni

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Gogo Karantoni was born in Nea Ionia in 1966. She began swimming in 1973. In the same year, she broke the Greek records in the girls’ category in 25m and 50m freestyle. She remained first in the following years, 1974, 1975 and 1976. In 1977 she took part in the qualification events for the formation of the national team and came first in the 400m freestyle. She participated in the national team of swimming and took part in the national meeting of Greece - Bulgaria in Athens and came first in the 400m freestyle.

In 1978, she achieved a second victory in the 200m breaststroke during the international meeting of Greece – Romania – Bulgaria in Sofia. Gogo continued with the same force until 1981 by bringing several trophies and medals to the Volos Nautical Club and the National Swimming Team. Today, she is the owner of a sport betting agency, she is married and has a daughter, Theodora, 18 years old, who is involved in swimming by following the steps of her mother.

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Georgios Michailidis

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He was born in Nea Ionia in 1976. His parents are Nikos Michailidis and Elpida Tsaggari. In 1989, he began as a swimmer but later on, in 1992, followed the activity of canoe-kayak in which he has been involved until nowadays. He has made great sporting achievements since 1995 by taking part in Panhellenic championships and winning first, second and third places. In May 1999, he won the first place in classic rowing (ten paddle) in the tournament of Macedonia Trade-Navy School held in Hamburg, Germany, where 16 countries took part with 24 athletes. He graduated from Macedonia Trade-Navy School and has a degree of third-grade Mechanic. He serves the Special Forces of Volos Port Authority.

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Despina Kozaki

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She was born in Nea Ionia in 1978. She is the daughter of Charalampos Kozakis and Vasilia Dim. Agnousiotou. She was first involved in technical swimming and won the first place in the 4x100m relay of the Regional Championship of Northern Greece in 1991 and first place in the 50m classic freestyle swimming. Since 1993, she has been involved in canoe-kayak while achieving numerous first and second-place victories and being part of the national team.

She has graduated from the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, University of Athens. She has taken part in training seminars and obtained coach diplomas for wild-water kayak slalom and rafting guiding leader from European associations.

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Gianna Kotzagiotou

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She was born in Nea Ionia in 1979. She is the daughter of Savvas Kotzagiotis and Elpida Pagoni. In the field of water sports, she selected the sport of paddling. From 1994 to 1999, she always won the first place in Greece. In 1997 and 1998, she won the second place in coxless four during the Balkan tournament. In 2000, she won the second place in women’s coxless four in Greece.
She lives in Nea Ionia and works as a physiotherapist.

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Thalia Koutroumanidou

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She was born in Nea Ionia in 1982. Daughter of Konstantinos Koutroumanidis from Asia Minor and Popi Perdiki. From the age of 12, she was involved in volleyball and, from the age of 16, in beach volley. At the age of 18, she took part in a beach volley tournament in California, USA. She began her studies in the Dental School of Athens while being involved in the sport in which she has been greatly performing and has been distinguished. She is a member of the National Team and, in the last few years, has an important international presence, with her greatest success being the 4th place in the International Championship of Young Athletes, while she is ranked No 14 worldwide. Throughout her career, she has obtained several gold and silver medals, distinctions and memorial awards.

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Asia Minor people Cultural Club
Nea Ionia - Magnesia
“EGLEZONISI"
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This action is co-financed by: The E.U. & R.O.P. of Thessaly 3rd C.S.F. 2000 - 2006
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Company For Social Intervention And Culture (EKPOL) of Magnesia Prefecture