ECBU 2013 Country Preview: Turkey

by | June 13, 2013, 7:00am 0

Number of active players: ~200
Notable beach tournaments: 34Hat
Past participation in beach championships: None
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Mixed

It’s hard to talk about a Turkish ultimate tradition, let alone a beach tradition. The Turkish ultimate scene is so new that traditions have yet to be properly established. In fact, ECBU 2013 will only be the third team beach tournament that a Turkish team has ever attended, and the first time that a team will attend a WFDF-sanctioned event.

In 2007, a group of expats from different countries came together and formed the first team in Istanbul, Türk Kasi (translates to Turkish Muscle, which is slang for a big belly). One of the expats had a Turkish roommate and thus the story unfolds.

Today there is a small but lively ultimate scene in Turkey: nine active teams (six university and three club teams), at least four other teams are in the process of formation, and there are 6 annual tournaments throughout the year (three hat and three team tournaments). Because of the small number of teams, university and club teams play together at tournaments  and Turkey does not have a National Championship yet, but it is in the works. While these numbers might seem small, the community is constantly growing, with new players and new teams emerging on a regular basis.

Up until 2011, the games were mostly non-competitive, with players focusing more on not initiating contact than getting to the disc. A few teams had occasionally made it to Europe for four or five tournaments. However, around the end of 2011, thanks to the emergence of stronger university teams, visits from experienced foreign players, a Sockeye clinic in Istanbul, and Turkish participation at Windmill Windup and other European tournaments, the scene slowly started to change and become more competitive.

Turkish players still maintain a strong belief in the importance of camaraderie in ultimate. Because it is such a small scene, pretty much everyone knows everyone else. Party attendances are high, and teams aren’t as insular as in other ultimate scenes—off the field, players act more like one big team than 9 separate teams.
In early 2011, the Oyunun Ruhu Dernegi (Spirit of the Game Association) was formed as the governing body for the sport of ultimate in Turkey. The 2013 ECBU team will officially be representing this association, since Turkey does not yet have an official ultimate federation, and thus cannot have a state-sanctioned national team.

Ultimate has largely been a mixed-only sport in Turkey (there have not yet been any Open or Women’s tournaments), although teams often play with 6-1 or 5-2 men-to-women ratios, as women have yet to come out in full force.  However, the first women’s pickup game was held in 2012 as a showcase game at a tournament, and this year a women’s clinic was organized to help strengthen the women’s scene, with another one planned for the fall. Turkey hopes are to send a men’s and women’s team to a WFDF sanctioned event in the near future.


The Turkish Mixed team having some fun at a training camp.

The Turkish Mixed team is a motley crew. We have very young, athletic but inexperienced players mixed with grumpy old warriors with cracking joints (you know who you are) and some inbetweeners. Joking aside, the team has a good mixture of athleticism and experience and a lot of grit. Our handling core is formed of players with some national titles outside of Turkey (all except one being on grass), together with some very experienced downfield players who also carry some international titles. We also have one up-and-coming star who has been playing for less than one year.

Three training camps were held for the team, two in Istanbul and one in Ankara (all of the team’s players play in Ankara and Istanbul). The only beach tournament in Turkey is a hat tournament held every September, and funding issues did not allow us to send a full training squad to a foreign tournament. Four players from the ECBU team joined other Turkish players to play at the Sandsplash Tournament in Vienna. The team took second place (losing the final on universe point) and won the spirit award.

For the Turkish Mixed team, the ECBU tournament is as much about gathering experience and testing ourselves against new opponents as about the competition itself. We want to give our young players experience at the highest level of competition so that they can pass on that experience to the next generation of players and tournaments in Turkey.

We also want to show the world that Turkish ultimate is active, vibrant and rapidly growing. We want to give a good fight to every team we play and also learn from them as much as possible.

Country profile and Mixed team preview by Eylem Caner

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