The Athletic Union of Karavas was founded in 1957 by a group of young citizens who wanted to create a pure athletic club putting aside any political beliefs and differences.
With the help of its pioneers, Costas Pikrallidas, Andreas Kozakos, Costas Patsalis, Demetrakis Aspris, Yiannis Kouvakas and Costas Flouris, the club held its constitutive assembly on May 2, 1957 at the First Urban School of Karavas. There, the club was given the name “A.E.K”. At the assembly there were about 50 people present. The first elected members of the temporary Board were Demetrakis Aspris, Andreas Kozakos, Costas Pikrallidas, Costas Patsalis, Costas Flouris, Yiannis Kouvakas and Andreas Iakovidis.
On September 8, 1957 a broader general assembly was held at the club’s premises (Paraskeva Spanoudis’ coffee shop, opposite the First Cooperative Grocery store), where representatives of both already existing athletic clubs (Karavas Youth Union and Aris Sports Club) were present. Those present, verified the establishment of the new Club and proceeded to dissolving the two existing athletic clubs, providing at the same time all their tangible and intangible assets to AEK. One of the major acts of the Club’s statute stated the prohibition of any political involvement. The official members of the first Board of Directors were Demetrakis Aspris (president), Andreas Kozakos, Costas Pikrallidas, Costas Flouris, Kyriacos Kozakos and Georgios Tsialia (members).
The leading figure of EOKA in the district of Kerynia, the golden Eagle of Pentadactylos, Kyriacos Matsis played a significant role in achieving the merging of the two clubs. From its foundation and onwards, the Club took part in every athletic, spiritual and artistic event organized in Karavas and the area of Kerynia. AEK managed to promote athleticism and gradually proceeded to creating departments dedicated to football, basketball, table tennis and classical athletics.
Soon after its creation, the club established a strong football team which took part in every football game organized throughout Cyprus, from Ayios Amvrosios to Ksero and from Lisi to Paphos, thus promoting the town of Karavas.
The golden age of AEK was during the years 1967-1971. With AEK leading the way, the football games became more organized and structured throughout the district of Kerynia (EPOEK). Livanos Kormakiti and AEK were the two football teams that were the constant winners of the championship and the Cup.
1972 was a benchmark for AEK, because during that time, the Club managed to become a member of Cyprus Football Association. During the 1972-73 season, AEK took part in the Third Division Championship and came seventh. In the 1973-74 season AEK attempted once again to win the Third Division title but due to various mishaps and the flee of two key players abroad (Costas Kosiaris and Antonis Pavlou), the team managed to only climb to fifth place. During that time, AEK had the second best offense in the championship and managed to score 42 goals. Top strikers were Costas Kosiaris, Iakovos Tsiouroutis and Mishellis. One of AEK’s best games was against Doksa Katokopias at Praxandros stadium (6-2). Marios Papallos, the coach, was one of the few people who devoted himself to the club.
The successful course of AEK and the pursuit of the championship title (a goal set by the Board of Directors at the ceremony organized by the Club at the “Mills” in June 1974) were overturned by the Turkish Invasion. In 1975-76, AEK, without any financial resources and with its football players and members of the Board scattered around the free areas of Cyprus responds to the call of the Cyprus Football Association and agrees to reinitiate the football team. After doing so, the team took part in the Second and Third Division Championship along with PAEK, competing together with the name PAEK/AEK and finished in second place in the league following Ethnikos Achnas. The match was held at Achileas Stadium in Kaimakli and coach was once again Marios Papallos.
In 1977-78, all AEK football players transferred over to the PAEEK football club which swore to promote all football activities of the city and district of Kerynia. Leading figures throughout the course of AEK were Yiannis Kouvakas (football officer) and Takis Vlachos, (player 1957-1973).
Basketball was not as popular or developed because of a lack of necessary establishments. In the beginning of 1972 however, the Board of Directors decided to promote the sport, constructing a basketball stadium with changing rooms, tiers and offices right next to the Club Premises. On November 20, AEK became a member of TEAK and during the season 1972-73 it participated in the Second Division Championship. With Krinos Markides as the team’s coach it managed to rank second behind Olympiakos Nicosia. During 1973-74, with Mikis Shiakallis as coach, AEK once again managed to finish in the second place following ENAO Ayion Omologiton. In the summer of 1973, AEK organized a basketball tournament in Karavas in which the best basketball clubs of Cyprus (APEOL, PAEK, Digenis Morphou and Achileas Kaimakliou) participated.
In 1973 AEK becomes a member of the Hellenic Volleyball Federation and takes part in the 1973-74 Second Division championship achieving good results.
The Club also promoted classical athletics. Every year, AEK organized the Whitsun games at Lambousa stadium, along with APOL Lapithou, was a dominant club. At the last Whitsun games which took place on the 2nd of June 1974, AEK won . Besides APOL, other teams would also take part in the games like IKAROS Ayiou Georgiou, THOI Vasilias, RIGAS Dioriou, Lapithos Reform Club and other neighboring clubs. AEK also participated in the spring games called “Ta Matsia” organized in April by Praxandros, in honor of the Golden Eagle of Pentadaktylos, Kyriacos Matsis.
In the 1974 games, AEK finished second. A number of talented athletes who stood out in District and National games were AEK members, e.g. Demetris Pateras (100m track and field), Neofytos Neofytou (800m and 1500m), Sofocles Neofytou (long distance track), Andreas Pateras (400m) and Charalambos Tsaggaris (long jump) etc.
Table tennis was very popular among AEK members. In 1974, AEK’s table tennis players participated in the National championship games organized by POEPA at the premises of Eleftheria Asscosiation in Palouriotissa, where they did relatively well despite their lack of experience.
Other than sports, the club was also involved in cultural, artistic and spiritual activities.
In 1964, a dance group was formed that received favourable comments after every performance. The group performed in hundreds of national and cultural events in Cyprus. It also performed abroad, at Irodous of Attica Theater, at Palais de Sport in Thessaloniki and in Rhodes, thus honoring AEK and the town of Karavas.
AEK honored all national anniversaries especially the anniversary of the beginning of the EOKA Liberation struggle with in-house celebrations. During the 1974 celebration, Nikos Koshis, one of the leading members of EOKA, gave a speech at AEK’s ceremony.
In memory and honour of two of the EOKA heroes, Gregoris Afxentiou and Kyriakos Matsis, AEK representatives were always present at the national memorials held in Mahairas and Dikomo, holding AEK’s flag.
Every year AEK organized the so-called Whitsun festivities which were held under the auspices of the Municipality of Karavas. The two-day long celebrations would begin on Pentecost Sunday with track and field competitions at Lambousa stadium and would finish on Whitsun Monday with various water sports and competitions at the small harbour of Lambousa followed by dance and rhyming couplets song competitions at the Lambousa stadium.
The donkey race was also part of the Whitsun competitions in earlier years. The star of the race was always Andreas Costa Sifounas. Primary school children from Karavas and Lapithos would also dance Cypriot and Greek dances and would participate in the egg and bag races.
The Whitsun festivities were considered to be the biggest and most important social event of the year attended by almost all the residents of Karavas as well as by people from surrounding areas.
The Lemon Dance
Every September, the “Lemon Dance” was held at one of the beach venues of Karavas. The early Dances took place at the Zephyros hotel and later on at Chrysos Vrachos, Neraida, Prasini Kilada and at Odissis Hadjidaminou’s. The last “Lemon Dance” was held at «CHURCHILL GARDEN» in September 1973.
Displacement - Reactivation
In the first years after the Turkish Invasion, the football team was the only team of the club that was reinitiated (1975 – 76).
During the General Assembly of AEK which was held at the premises of Apollonas in Lemesos, on the 25th of August 1976, AEK’s members decided to merge the club’s football team with PAEK Kyrenias ‘s football team. A new attempt to reinitiate the club came in 2000 when a group of club members decided to laid the foundations for the development and the promotion of the club in the sports life of Cyprus. The beginning was difficult but the efforts gradually bore fruit.
An important point of reference in the history of the club was the integration of all the athletic clubs of the town of Karavas under the name Karavas Lambousa Sports Union. Key figures in this effort were the former Mayor Mr. Panikos Tsentas and the current Mayor Mr. Yiannis Papaioannou. The ceremony took place on the 25th of January 2004 at the Karavas Cultural Foundation premises and the then minister of Defense Mr. Koulis Mavronikolas, who was present, delivered a speech. During the ceremony, the veteran football players of the club, the athletes and the former presidents of the town’s clubs, Kyriacos Kozakos (president of AEK), Demetris Aspris (President of Aris) and Andreas Sekkides (president of PAOK) were all honoured for their contribution.
AEK’s recent achievements
AEK’s volleyball team ascended in the First Division a few years ago and has since been achieving good results. The first time it participated in the First Division Championship, it managed to finish third, gaining the opportunity to compete in international championships.
The first important distinction of the club came in 2005 when the volleyball team participated in the CEV CUP. President of the club during that time was Damianos Hadjidamianou. The games took place in France from the 11th of November 11 to the 13th, and the team managed to climb to third place, highlighting AEK’s notable athletic efforts and at the same time promiting the occupied town of Karavas at on an international level.
The most important of AEK’s distinctions came in 2010 when the volleyball team won the First Division Cup. The game took place on the 23rd of April at the Spyros Kyprianos stadium against the former champion, Anorthosis. The game was exciting and the results were 3-2 in favour of POKKA AEK Karava Lambousa. This distinction made the people of Karavas, the citizens of the area of Kyrenia and all the fans of the club extremely proud.
That very same year, the volleyball team won the Super -Cup, scoring 3-1. The Super-Cup is a game organized annually by the Cyprus Volleyball Federation. Only the title and Cup holder teams have the right to compete in it. The game was held on the 22nd of October 2010.
After winning the Cup, the volleyball team participated in the 2010 “European Challenge Cup” where AEK played against AEP Patras. The first game took place in Patra on the 17th of November 2010 and AEP Patras won 3-1 set. The second game took place on the 24th of November 2010 at the University of Cyprus’s stadium. The Greek team won the game once again with 3-0 set. The Europe Challenge Cup was a truly fruitful experience for AEK since it gave the club the opportunity to promote the occupied town of Karavas.During the October 2010 – April 2011 season, the volleyball team conquered the second place in the championship. AEK had the same points as the champion team of Anorthosis who ranked first with its one-set advantage.
This second place enabled AEK to participate in international games. In December 2011, AEK participated in the CEV Challenge Cup, where the volleyball team beat the Austrian team Hot Volleys with 3-0 set in both games in Vienna and Cyprus. In 2012, AEK proceeded to win the Finnish team Lacapa Ravonec. AEK’s volleyball team managed to qualify for the 16th finals, gaining essential experiences and positive exposure by the media.
During the 2011-12 season, POKKA AEK Karava Lambousa was crowned champion for the first time in its history, a great achievement that overwhelmed the people of Karavas and the area of Kyrenia with immense pride. The touching winning ceremony took place on the 16th of March 2012 at the Spyros Kyprianos stadium in Lemesos.
During the 2012-13 season, title winner AEK beat the 2012 Cup winner Anorthosis and won the Super Cup. One more great achievement that honours the town of Karavas and the people who support this refugee sports union. The Super Cup game took place on the 12th of October 2012 at theSpyros Kyprianos stadium in Lemesos.
Big goals and great desires- these are all interconnected with the love and pride for the occupied town of Karavas. The president and members of the club, the sponsors and the friends of AEK Karava Lambousa reassure people that they will do their best so that the notable course of AEK in the Cypriot sports scene continues until the blessed day of return to its motherland, the unforgettable town of Karavas.