It isn’t boys’ football; it’s just football

This year more than 700 footballers were trained at Ülker sponsored Football Village in Isparta, Bolu, Sivas and Sinop. The Sinop Football Village was reserved for girls only. We spoke with the architects and young players who took part in one of Turkey’s most comprehensive football projects.

Turkish Football Federation Football Development Center Director Ahmet Güvener addressed future women footballers on the closing day. The Football Village in Sinop ended with more than 60 footballers between the ages of 12 and 13, taking part in the closing ceremonies, where the girls were applauded for their participation in the training sessions and matches.

Trabzonspor technical director Hamdi to head women’s football

The camp in Sinop was organized to develop female footballers explained Hamdi Aslan, technical director for the A National Women’s Football Team. “There are nearly 600 licensed female footballers in Turkey, but compared to the rest of the world that is a very small number. Germany currently has 1.4 million female football players.  We are attempting to increase our number by appealing to younger age groups. As long as this project continues, our Women’s A National Team will work its way up. We have players here from Istanbul, Ankara, Kars, Izmir and Adana,” he stated.

We are producing good players and good fans

Pointing out that the Football Village Project is bringing children from diverse regions of Turkey together, Turkish Football Federation Football Development Center Director Ahmet Güvener added, “Football Villages foster a love of the game and a spirit of fair play in the children who attend. Our expert educators provide instruction and support the children’s personal development; by so doing we aim to transform these kids into good players and responsible fans.”

Play like a girl – Zeynepgül Ene

Former basketball player Project Coordinator Zeynepgül Ene believes that football is a universal sport. She addressed the children at the camp, saying that the Turkish Football Federation need to do more to open the door to women footballers.  “Don’t play like boys; play like girls,” she advised, “That will earn you respect.” The first responsibility of the Turkish Football Federation is to “Establish a Turkish National Team and ensure its success,” says Ene, “As a federation, we have implemented a system to follow the progress of these children.”  Many students give up playing sports to study for the university entrance exam. “There is a bright light on the horizon for Turkey’s women footballer.  The points on the university exam for questions concerning physical education and sports are very high and this is an advantage for the students who wish to enter a sports-oriented center for higher learning.  Upon passing the exam, they are also eligible for scholarships.

No cursing in our league – Ebru Gelirli

20 year-old National footballer Ebru Gelirli, is in her third year of studies at Marmara University’s Training Department. She came to Sinop to talk to the girls here about her experiences as a national team player. When Ebru Gelirli began her pursuit of sport there were less than 50 girls involved and the team went through a lot of difficulties because it had no sponsors. After seeing the Football Village, she exclaimed, “This is a great place. I wish I could be the right age to come here.”  Speaking about the matches she last played for the National Team against Bulgaria and Estonia, Ebru Gelirli explained that the last match ended in victory when the National Team defeated Estonia 6-0 and won the cup. Gelirli stated that women’s football in Turkey must be developed further, and added, “We don’t play like men do. Our main difference is that we don’t swear or curse and we concentrate on fair play.”

Future women footballers

Arzu Başar

Arzu, who took part in the Sinop camp, is from Istanbul. She is 12 years old and plays for Maltepe Yalı Spor as a licensed footballer. She was first discovered by her physical education teacher, Mehmet Topuz, says Arzu, “He was the person who registered me with Maltepe Yalı Spor.”  She says that she fractured her arm while playing football with her school chums, and adds, “That injury didn’t stop me from coming to the camp, and I will always play football.”

Ayşe Önal

Twelve-year-old Ayşe came to the Sinop camp from Izmir.  She has been playing for the Karşıyaka Besem club since she was a tiny girl, and is a licensed footballer. Ayşe, as the only girl in her family, says that her interest in football was sharpened because of her brothers.

Berna Yeniçeri

Berna is also 12 and she lives in Karadeniz Ereğli. She is the oldest daughter in her family and was encouraged to play by her parents. Berna’s goal is to become a National footballer.

Female Ronaldhinos from Gaziantep

Burçin Şarklı

Burçin Şarklı is a 13-year-old who came to the Sinop camp from Gaziantep. She began to play football with the support of her older sisters, and can control the ball and make special moves, just like a female Ronaldinho.

Cansel Durmuş

12-year-old Cansel Durmuş is a goalkeeper. Even though she was not enthusiastic about being a goalkeeper at first, she has come to embrace it. Cansel says she is grateful to the instructors who taught her, and she will continue to play football as a goalkeeper.

Ayşenur Tosun

Ayşenur Tosun is 13. The footballer from Antalya came to the Sinop camp as a defensive player.

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