The Balls arrival in Turkey

Day 1 of The Ball’s visit to Turkey and kein geringer als der Bürgermeister von Sisli/Istanbul (CHP, the biggest opposition party) hat uns in Empfang genommen. For Benni, it was already the second visit to the mayor’s office. He visited the Vorgänger on the 2018 The Ball trip and showed his successor some pictures of The Ball’s visit to Turkey in 2018 including a short scene from the Spirit of The Ball Netflix documentary. After a round of headers in and outside the building (all the security guards wanted to sign The Ball as well), we were taken back to the office of our partner the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Besiktas. Antonia and Pinar, the FES coordinators, took such good care of us and planned the entire stay for us. Thanks so much for this! At their office, we also met some of their colleagues who also wanted to head and sign The Ball and had some time to prepare our workshop for the next two days. Next on the list was a very special meeting with our partner organization Yuvam Dünya – for the first time offline. We had a delicious lunch together – Pide, Cig Köfte, Lentil Soup –  made last arrangements and had some time to get to know each other.

The Balls meets the mayor

Strengthened, the team around The Ball went to Kurtulus, another part of Istanbul. Yuvam Dünya’s Funda offered us a ride through the steep streets of Istanbul. (The next day, we learned that this was not the most adventurous ride through Istanbul…) In Kurtulus we had the pleasure to meet with Konstantin Belalidis, the President of Kurtulus Sports Club, a Greek sports club which was founded in 1896 and is one of the oldest existing sports clubs in Istanbul. Here, The Ball really demonstrated its inclusivity: we joined a Basketball youth team during their training session, tried to play some FairPlay Basketball instead of football, were shown around the club house and, after another round of headers and signatures – the first ones from basketballers, were treated with some Turkish sweets and some very sweet juices – as sweet as BeeGee and Jenny.

 

Across the street, several people were preparing the Mahalla Festival which takes place at a former Greek primary school and includes workshops and presentations dealing with waste, resources and environment, cultural heritage and culture of remembrance, and urban transformations. We were invited to present The Ball which on Friday evening after our second workshop day.

 

Back at our hotel in Besiktas, we had time to quickly freshen up and get ready for our welcome dinner. Also our guest from England, Football for Future’s Elliot, who helped us develop the Football Under the Climate Microscope Resource, had finally made it to Istanbul and joined us as well. The restaurant that Pinar and Antonia chose belongs to a former Turkish footballer, Turgut Vidinli. He heard from his friend Dino from Kurtulus Sports Club about the project and welcomed us at his restaurant. It goes without saying that The Ball was warmly welcomed and headed and signed by Turgut, his son and a couple of more people who happened to walk by. He also showed us his personal museum of pictures with celebrities who ate at his restaurant, mostly footballers including Mario Gomez and Christoph Daum.

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