Ülker football village project reached 273,000 children on its ninth anniversary

Yıldız Holding’s many projects aimed at children have had a positive impact on the lives of more than 2 million kids [across Türkiye]. Within the past nine years, they’ve spent more than 38 million Turkish liras such projects.

Yıldız Holding’s many projects aimed at children have had a positive impact on the lives of more than 2 million kids [across Türkiye]. Within the past nine years, they’ve spent more than 38 million Turkish liras such projects. These include sports, art-cinema and balanced nutrition education projects contributing to the physical, social, cultural and mental development of children.

For the past nine years, Yıldız Holding has launched many projects under its “Football for Children” program. This year, it will spice them up with new activities. In the last two years, it invested “USD $1.5 million in the “Football for Children” project (up from USD $900,000 last year).

Three brand new projects…

The Football School(s), U13 Football League, and University School…

Football Schools will kick off on July 6, and run until September 15, 2015 in 14 different cities [across Türkiye]. In them, children will get to play sports for three months straight. Part of that includes basic football training. The schools will teach 60 kids between 6 and 12 each month for free. 2,520 children are expected to attend them.

The U13 Football League will be held for the first time ever in Türkiye over 2015 and 2016 semester, in cooperation of the Provincial Directorate of National Education and Youth Services Sports and the TFF. Three hundred eighty (380) schools and 12,600 athletes (all aged 13) are expected to partake in the league and play in various matches. The events will take place in 38 districts across Istanbul. It will then be decided which will get to play in the grand tournament at the end of the season. The project aims to promote football to school children, and encourage girls and boys alike to play football.

University School will take place between September and May of 2015. Ülker and the TFF have collaborated with Turkish universities that have either Physical Education & Sports Colleges (BESYO) or Faculties of Sports Sciences. They aim to promote football by teaching it to primary school student during school time. Moreover, PE and Sports majors will also get involved in the project and gain coaching experience while they study. Two hundred forty (240) primary schools – including 21 from Türkiye and 3 from Northern Cyprus – alongside 24 universities (10 schools from each province) are expected to take part (43,200 students total).

Bahar Erbengi (Yıldız Holding Türkiye’s Corporate Communications General Manager) recently spoke at the TFF’s annual opening ceremony this year. “ Ülker Football Village is “Football for Children’s” biggest project. Yıldız Holding has spent close to 22 million Turkish liras to date on various football and basketball projects (in unison with the relevant federations). Nearly 273,000 children have been granted the opportunity to play sports.”

The project inspired a major shift in the infrastructure
Erbengi said that [Turkish] children now have the opportunity to play sports from an early age thanks to Ülker’s projects. Türkiye joined the project in 2007. “Yıldız Holding is the project’s sole sponsor. Phase one of the project was opening the TFF – Ülker Football Village in the Province of Van back in 2007. The Van Football Village started off with just 500 kids. That number has since grown to more than 273,000 kids. Now we’re expanding that.”

Bahar Erbengi said that the children who come to the villages have a lot of fun. Many feel a bit anxious because it’s the first time that they’re away from their families, but then they eventually open up as they make new friends. “The kids leave the village content. Many get all emotional. They go back home with memories that they’ll never forget. At Ülker, our goal is to put a smile on people’s faces. We help the kids become dynamic and individuals who love sports and who can think for themselves. The first step towards this is always the beginning of a great journey.”
Erbengi pointed out that investing in children’s football gives them a fabulous foundation in sports.

“Many of the kids who have participated in our projects continue move onto doing sports professionally. Within the past nine years, 36 boys and 44 girls have been picked from the Football Villages to play on national teams. Fifty of these have even signing contracts with professional football clubs. Two important examples include Enes Unal, who now plays for Manchester City, and Oğulcan Çağlayan, who plays for Olympiacos. Enes joined the Isparta Football Village in 2009, and signed a professional contract with Bursaspor in 2013. Oğulcan joined Van Football Village in 2007. He eventually played for Bursaspor, Gaziantepspor, and Kayseri Erciyesspor before Olympiacos took him on this summer. Ozan Tufan plays for A National team and Bursaspor, and was a star player at Football Village. In other words, such projects teach children how to play sports, as well to scout out a pool of talent.”

About the Ninth Annual Football Village
This year, some 400 kids are expected to learn advanced football at 10 Football Villages in 8 cities across Türkiye (Aydın, Erzurum (x 2), Nevşehir (x 2), Sinop, Isparta, Sakarya, Istanbul, and Elazığ) between July 29 and August 24.

The Public Football Village Program will be held last 3 days of Football Village Camp. The program aims to allow children to experience a Football Village themselves without actually attending one. So far, 80 children participating have joined the program. All football is tailored for 12 year old kids. Expert instructors and coaches teach the kids football and about goalkeeping and futsal. Meanwhile, the kids get to discover what they’re capable of, make new friends (away from their families), better themselves through sports, and experience different things. Seasoned instructors from the “Balance in Food” program (Sabri Ülker Food Research Foundation) teach the kids about nutrition. The children will also get a chance to learn about the environment, play chess, and do creative drama with instructors from the Provincial Environmental Directorate, the Turkish Chess Federation, and from Ekol Drama (part of the Turkish Ministry of National Education), respectively. The kids are also enthusiastic about the Football Village Brothers & Sisters Project (launched last year by the Community Volunteers Foundation). TOG volunteers – themselves young – spend 10 days in the villages with the kids to help them adapt. An Art Workshop by Söz Consultancy allows the kids to express themselves by making 15-second mini films.

Every kid plays 22.5 hours of football, as well as does 5 hours of creative drama, 10.5 hours of reading, 4.5 hours of chess, 1.5 hours of first aid, 1.5 hours of environmental awareness, and 1.5 hours of nutrition. There’s also time to go on tours and have fun. The kids spend about 14 hours going on field trips, watching movies, and participating in so-called “happy hour” events.

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