After the delegation of ball carriers sadly had to say goodbye to Istanbul, it divided into two: The Ball with half of the team continuing towards Jordan and afterwards Lebanon, with the intention of reuniting with the other Spirits in Gaziantep in southern Turkey. Meanwhile, the other 4 members of the divided travel group had the important task of spreading the human aspect of football in Turkey, this time without the round, holy medium itself. This was necessary because the ball vehicle, put at our disposal by the Autohaus Schinner, Weimar, had to get to the South of Turkey, in order to continue its journey from there.
Our first stop was Avanos in Cappadocia, where we were warmly welcomed in the middle of nowhere by a shepherd, the only English-speaking person we had met up till then, to have a cup of coffee in his cave, furnished with modern means, where he told us about his life. After this pleasant encounter, we happily continued our journey and made a beautiful halt in Halfeti on the Euphrates, where we had a similarly friendly welcome in yet another type of cave – a hotel built into the rock. We played backgammon, drank home-made wine and became friends with the inhabitants, who showed us the old town of Alfeti per boat on the the Euphrates. These two places were true highlights on our 1,600 km trip to Gaziantep, as well as the breathtaking landscape of Eastern Anatolia, which unfolded itself along the road.
On our arrival in Gaziantep, we began our work as team delegates and prepared around 20 young pedagogues in a youth center (Cumhuriyeti Gençlik ve Spor Bakanlığı) for the coming of The Ball. In cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the support of the main responsible, Maen Alawes, we started into a four-day workshop for multipliers, with the goal of imparting our experiences and methods towards a fair society. The preparatory days with the rather skeptical but dedicated teachers and pedagogues of the youth center were very structured – perhaps too structured, so that the participants learned the SoF-modules perfectly, however not with the spirit necessary to truly internalize the message, and this was possibly due to cultural and language differences.
After the workshop days, our new Spirit members were asked to apply what they had learned and to practice the new methods in a four-day project. Together with our once more enlarged team (the Ball had returned to Turkey with its ball bearers on the 1st of June), 100 kids were supposed to be infused with the Spirit over the course of several days and workshops. Often we had to prove our improvisational capacities, since frequent changes of plans made this necessary. But thanks to the motivated volunteers and our team of nine, we were able to realize a successful workshop with less kids and less time, where they learned fairplay football and fairplay theatre. In the course of a Spirit of Arts module, a simple, colourful graffito was generated on a wall by everyone together on the last day. A simple wall which was made to express what the Journey of The Ball stands for: colourful diversity!
By Basti Bartl
Written by Ulrike Enders on Saturday, June 16th, 2018