On the 21st June the President, Marijke Fleuren and I travelled to Ankara to commence two and a half days of meetings with the Turkish Hockey Federation. 

How things can change within the space of a week is unimaginable. I am sure everyone in Hockey shares our thoughts and condolences for the tragic events at Istanbul Airport.  As you will read our visit was one of welcome and friendship and it is very sad that this barbaric act effects all of us.

On our arrival we received a warm welcome at Ankara Airport from the President Kivanc Hurdogen and his financial manager. Temperature was 38 degrees!

After a restful night we started the following morning with a meeting with the Turkish Sports Vice General Manager Mr. Murat Kocakya  where we discussed with him the progress of the development of Hockey in Turkey. Mr. Kocakya informed us how impressed they are with approach and hard work of the Turkish Federation. Marijke explained how we at EHF, along with the FIH, are supporting hockey in Turkey through helping educate coaches, umpires and officials and at the elite level the national teams in Turkey get support from the KNHB through a twinning programme.  The Ministry is very committed to developing facilities for Hockey and expressed their gratitude for our support.  We also met with Mrs. Ülker Erçin Director of the Economy Department of the Ministry of Sport and Youth who informed us that the Hockey Federation was one of the most professionally run in Turkey. We discussed with her the different items of the hockey budget. An impressive lady with a heart for the sport.  The next visit was to the Turkish Hockey Federation office where we met the staff. We felt a sense of a family spirit with the good of Hockey at its heart.  At the Office Kivanc presented Marijke and I with a lovely gift of a design of ships on glass.

Leaving the office staff behind us we hit the road for Konya, three hours south. Here we visited the venue of the Boys U18 Championships in July.  The clubhouse, pitch and surroundings are excellent for hosting such an event. Here we warmly welcomed by Konya Sport City Director Mr. Ömer Ersöz and his team where he outlined the for developing the area with another pitch and lights and a multitude of other sport developments.

It was then back on the road south to the coast and the city of Alanya.  A brief stop on the way allowed us to take in the view and air of the Turkish mountains. 

On arrival in Alanya we were met by Turkish Board members Mahir Oktay and Alper Yildirim where we were treated to the famous Turkish coffee and a choice of local specialities. To make you jealous, served at the seaside! Still 34 degrees! We have clearly noticed during the days that there is a great atmosphere between the staff and also the Board members we met. 

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Mayor of Alanyas Office – Mahir Oktay, Board of Member,Kivanc Hurdogen, Mayor of Alanya Mr. Adem Murat Yucel, Marijke Fleurn, Angus Kirkland, Alper Yildirim, Board Member, Mr.Hasan Diskaya.

The following morning we visited the Indoor Hockey arena and met the Alanya municipality sports club director Mr. Levent Ugur.  The Indoor hall, which will host the Men’s Indoor Club Challenge II in February next year is very well set up and has seating for over 2,000.  It is impressing to see how quick and in a broad spectre progress has been made. 

We then had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Alanya Mr. Adem Murat Yucel.  It is clear that sport and Hockey is important for the youth of the area but also with the right infrastructure can attract overseas hockey enthusiasts. Of course we also discussed with him the worries of the world today. 

We left the Mayor’s office to visit the stadium in Alanya.  Kivanc explained that in the next nine months a new pitch would be laid with floodlighting and the main stand would be fully re-furbished. Next to the main stand was a Youth complex run by Mr.Hasan Diskaya.  Mr Diskaya explained that these types of complexes are in every region in Turkey.  It is a place for the youth.  Here they can study, play music, do drama, art, chess and of course play sport – all at no charge to them. Marijke was touched by their approach to get children involved in sports and culture, so that they get better possibilities in life.

By the way: across the road from the venue is the beachfront where a Beach Hockey pitch is set up. Imagine what a challenge to start summer camps.

We then left Alanya and headed to Belek and the Gloria Sports Arena which will host the World League Round 1 in coming September.  The Polytan pitch is superb and matches the rest of the state of the art facilities which are too numerous to mention.  Many professional teams and sports bodies use the facility throughout the year with not detail for the modern athlete not catered for.

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Konya Sport City Director Mr. Ömer Ersöz and hockey arena

We concluded our trip with an interview for the monthly hockey programme on the terrace.  Kivanc explained that the Indoor Super League is covered by one of the main sports channels giving much needed profile to the game. 

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The Indoor Hall in Alanya

All in all, there is an atmosphere of excitement about the future of hockey in Turkey – support from the ministry for the sport and also infrastructure projects, support from the EHF, FIH and KNHB through the Targeted Assistance Programme (TAP) to help educate the coaches, umpires and officials and bring on their top players, and Turkish Hockey driving competition and promoting it through TV and social media channels. All the hockey development is equal for men and women. This consistent and holistic approach bodes well for Hockey, not just in Turkey, but also Europe.

We left the following morning very early. Full of impressions and also admiration for this group of people working so hard to give hockey a place on the sports map in Turkey. 

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Dinner in Alanya – Sinem Yalcindag, Sports Directors of Turkish Hockey, Kivanc Hurdogen, Marijke Fleuren, Angus Kirkland, Mahir Oktay, Board of Member, Alper Yildirim, Board of Member, Taylan Mert, General Secretary Turkish Hockey

Written by Angus Kirkland, Director General, EHF

Main photograph: Two Presidents! Kivanc Hurdogen and Marijke Fleuren