Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wednesday: Turkey against Holland

Wednesday will be a special day for the Turkish community in the Netherlands as Turkey take on Holland in a friendly football match at the Amsterdam ArenA. Thousands of supporters of Turkish descent are expected, adding touches of red to the orange army of Dutch fans.
This friendly encounter might feel like a home game for both teams, says Turkish-born Hayati Kulaksiz, Chairman of FC Ankaraspor in Amsterdam, who moved to the Netherlands 25 years ago.
“The atmosphere will be great and of course we’ll be going to the stadium to see the Dutch play too, not just Turkey. Many Turks here follow Holland matches, either live at the stadium or on their television sets. For us, Holland is our second national team, as it were.”

Dual nationality

Asked whether the inclusion of players of Turkish origin in the Netherlands could strengthen his support for the Dutch team, Mr Kulaksiz won’t be drawn. But he does have an explanation why none have been capped in recent years.
''Turkish talents with dual nationality are careful not to spoil their chances of joining either team, he says. Capped players cannot change allegiance, so once they’ve played for one national team, they won’t be allowed to play for the other.''
“This means Turkish players hold off a decision until there’s some degree of certainty that the national coach will stay in the job for at least a couple of years, because in Turkey, you can never be sure. That’s Turkish mentality, I’m afraid.”

Parents to blame

However, indecisive or not, the pool of top-quality players of Turkish descent here in the Netherlands is, unlike that in next-door Germany, simply not that big. But why? It all starts at a young age, explains Mr Kukaksiz, and it sets the Turkish community apart from the Moroccan community, which is roughly equal in size.
“You see Moroccan parents, even 60-year-old grandmothers, escort their children to the football pitch. But Turkish people in Holland register their kids with football clubs and then leave them to their own devices. They can’t be bothered to watch them play or train. They prefer to stay in their coffeehouses. I’ve seen talented players, 18 or 19-year-olds, who have the potential to start a professional career, but I know they won’t succeed, because even great talents need the support from their parents.”

German-Turkish stars

The situation is indeed different in Germany, where players of Turkish origin like Serdar Tasci and Mesut Özil are regularly called up to join Die Mannschaft, the national team.
“Around 80 percent of Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands are from the countryside, but in Germany the majority come from urban areas and have a totally different mentality. They’re less traditional and much more active. That’s the reason.”

Day Opening - November 16; Happy Bayram