Ali Ülker visits Sakarya football village

On Monday, September 8, 2014, Yıldız Holding’s Vice Chairman Ali Ülker closed the Football Villages realized as part of the “Football for Children” project by Yıldız Holding with the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).

This past Monday (September 8, 2014), Ali Ülker (Yıldız Holding’s Vice Chairman) attended the closing ceremony of Football Village – a “Football for Children” project that the company co-runs with the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).

Football Village welcomed 400 children this year from across the country at 3 girls and 7 boys camps. To date, it has offered some 4,000 talented children the chance to pursue their dreams.

Grassroots Football is UEFA project aimed at encouraging children all over the world to play sports. It began with 500,000 children in 2004, and has since grown to 4.6 million children in 54 countries, not the least of which include Germany (the world’s football capital), Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The project has very strong supporters in every country

Turkey joined Grassroots Football in 2007. Yıldız Holding (which is also the main sponsor of Turkey’s many national football teams), and its chief brand, Ülker, both support its Turkish chapter. The TFF Ülker Football Village is its first major project, with the first village having opened in the Province of Van in 2007.

Football Village humbly began with 500 children. That number has since risen to 272,000. The best of the best eventually get scouted to play for professional football clubs, stars/youth clubs, as well as on the A National Football Team.

Many now-famous names had their beginnings at Football Villages. Bursaspor’s young star Ozan Tufan scored the winning goal that defeated Denmark. Enes Ünal shone at Bursaspor and then became the youngest player to ever enter the Super League. Galatasaray’s own Berk Yıldız and Fenerbahçe’s Beykan Şimşek and Muhammed Demirci were selected to play on Beşiktaş’s A team. Female players have demonstrated remarkably similar success. Within the past seven years, 36 boys and 44 girls from Football Village have been scouted to play on national youth teams across Turkey.

Some fifty players have signed contracts with professional football clubs. Turkey has become one of the fastest countries in the UEFA Grassroots program to flourish, having received five stars in five years.

Yıldız Holding’s projects aimed at children have reached 2 million kids across Turkey. Within the past eight years, the company has spent TL 33 million on such projects – which namely focus on sports, arts, and nutrition education – and has therefore invested in the kids’ social, cultural, and psychological development.

Yıldız Holding and Ülker are working hard to raise happier children through its Children’s Cinema Festival, Children’s Art Workshop, Balance in Food Program, and Football for Children.

“Football for Children” is company’s biggest social responsibility project. Launched in 2007, it receives close to TL 20 million in funding, and has allowed some 272,000 children across Turkey the opportunity to play sports.

About Football Village 2014

10 football villages across 8 cities (Isparta, Erzurum, Nevşehir, Sakarya, Sinop, İzmir, Elazığ, and Balıkesir) will coach 400 children in advanced football this year. Consisting of two phases, coaches will first train eight hundred children. Of those, half will get to move onto advance training (phase two) during the last three days of camp. The training will be tailored to cater the needs of 12-year olds. In addition to advanced football techniques, they’ll also learn – through interactive training – about goalkeeping, game rules, and fair play, as well as how to play futsal.

Teachers from the Sabri Ülker Food Research Foundation’s “Balance in Food” will lecture the kids on nutrition. For the environmental awareness component, Ülker received support from the Provincial Environmental Directorates and the Marine Clean Association (TURMEPA).

The children also get a chance to learn chess and creative drama with instructors from the Turkish Chess Federation and Ekol Drama (part of the Turkish Ministry of National Education)

Lastly, they are excited about the Football Village Brothers & Sisters Project (launched last year by the Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG)). TOG volunteers – themselves young – spend 10 days in the villages with the kids to help them adapt.

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