Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Soccer in Turkey (Türkiye'de futbol)

The other day a couple who I work with were going to attend a soccer game here in Ankara, they happen pretty regularly and they are CHEAP to attend, and they invited anyone who would like to to come along. So along I went. I enjoy sports a lot and have a love of soccer ever since I coached my first boys varsity team in Korea at ICS (now YISS) way back in 2000. Those boys taught me all about the game and why it is worth loving (thanks, guys!). So when the opportunity arises, I like to go and see games. Anyway, I went to this game and it was nothing like I had ever been to before. It was 99.8% men in attendance at the game and their cheering was deafening. But it wasn't just random cheers or jeers, but organized chants and movements. It was highly distracting for me because I was fascinated and thrilled to watch the crowd. The soccer on the field was pretty great too. I have pictures on my phone, but can't work out the password to this computer in order to bluetooth them over... sorry gang, you will just have to take my word for it. The stands were full of zealous fans who shouted, clapped and made high pitched whistles in unison. Some chants also involved running up and down the stands etc. It was overwhelming, but in the best way possible.
As a woman in the crowd, I didn't feel unsafe at all. In fact, when one of the chants required the mob to run to the left and then to the right, the crowd saw that a group of foreigners (mostly female) were there and simply went around us. Now, I don't know if I'd go to a game alone, but with a group, for SURE!
So if you are in Ankara and really want to have a great cultural experience of modern day Turkey, let me recommend that you spend 5 Turkish Lira and get yourself in the stands! It's awesome!

Here is the smallest taste I could find of what it was like to be there, and we didn't sit in this crowded of an area:

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