Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Australia And Turkey On The Playing Field Of Peace

The two countries have reached an historic agreement that will see their shared past celebrated upon the pitch..
24 Mar 2009 05:46:52

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announced a new annual event to emphasise the strong links between Australia and Turkey.

The deal will see football matches played between the two countries in either Turkey or Australia in alternating years, starting with two mens’ Under-16 matches to be held next month in Canakkale and Gelibolu (Gallipoli), Turkey, on April 24 and 26.

“Everyone knows Australia and Turkey has a long and shared history, this announcement builds on our shared history in a very unique way for football in particular,” said FFA CEO Ben Buckley.

Buckley said that the date of the annual football event was selected to coincide with Anzac Day (25 April) for Australia and National Sovereignty and Children’s Day (23 April) for Turkey.

The plan has the strong support of both governments, with Australia’s Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, and Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, expected to attend one of the matches.

A special reception will be hosted by the FFA in Turkey and both the Australian and Turkish governments will attend those events.

Buckley continued, “This kind of announcement is what makes football special, the fact that two nations can come together, two nations with a shared history, a proud history and a history now that is built on a peaceful basis and one of great mutual respect.”

Next year Turkey will visit Australia, the teams will be decided upon the availability of both men’s and women’s teams on annual basis.

Regarding the prospect of both the senior men’s national teams playing, Buckley said, “Of course it would be a fantastic opportunity for our man’s national teams to play in and around those dates at sometime in the future, that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

Building For The Future

Australian Institute of Sport coach Jan Versleijen will take an under-16 team to Europe for a series of matches around that time, which will include a Turkish-born immigrant who will line up for the Aussies - Sydney FC youth player Kerem Bulut.

“This is the future of Australian football, and hopefully the core of that team will go on to bigger and better things as we look to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and of course to host and play in the final of the 2018 World Cup,” Buckley said.

Sitting next to him at FFA’s new headquarters on Oxford Street was the Consul-General of the Republic of Turkey.

He opened with remarks about Australia and Turkey’s special relationship:
“We are all aware the two countries enjoy a unique friendship, fraternity, no doubt the common past we shared on the battlefields of Gallipoli contributes highly to this fraternity.

“Anzacs and other Turkish soldiers who fell there could not have known that within a few decades, because of honouring the dead on both sides, this campaign would bring Turkey and Australia closer together.

“Therefore the Turkish government and the Turkish FA are proud to announce these matches.

“When Mr Buckley and his colleagues at the FFA approached our consulate a couple of months ago we were delighted.

“We look forward to being inaugural hosts of the event with the two matches on April 24 and 26.

“We believe that these matches will add another dimension to the friendly and unique relations.

“The fact that many Australian players are playing in Turkey, including Harry Kewell, is another important aspect of the football relations we have, they are football ambassadors in Turkey."

Australian visitors to Gallipoli in 2009 wanting to support their team can do so on:

April 24: Canakkale Stadium, Ataturk Cad, Canakkale. Kick-off 14:00 local.
April 26: Gelibolu Stadium, Gelibolu (Gallipoli). Kick-off 14:00 local.

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