GAZIANTEP, December 7, 2017 - The Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC) and the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality have launched a sports school for local children and Syrian refugees in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.
Activity at the school kicked-off this weekend at the Talat Özkarslı Sports Hall, where children were invited to take part in sporting activities led by Olympic gymnasts Göksu Üçtaş Şanlı and Ferhat Arıcan, who competed at London 2012 and Rio 2016 respectively, as well as U23 World Wrestling Champion Fatih Cengiz. The three athletes conducted training sessions for the children and told inspiring stories of how they became professional athletes.
In total, 300 children, half of whom are Syrian refugees, will take part in six Olympic sports: taekwondo, wrestling, badminton, volleyball, basketball and Karate.
The school will operate through the TOC’s ‘Support Through Sport’ project, which was launched in March 2017, with the support of the IOC Emergency Fund for Refugees. Since then, the TOC has significantly expanded the project by hiring coaches, translators and technical officers.
The TOC is also fully funding the project, which is aimed at contributing to Syrian children’s physical and social development through greater accessibility to sport, whilst strengthening friendships and solidarity with Turkish children.
The TOC sent a high-level delegation to the event, including Vice-President Nihat Usta, Board member Seyit Bilal Porsun and Secretary General Neşe Gündoğan. The Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality was represented by its Deputy Secretary General Ali Aslan.
TOC Vice-President Nihat Usta said: "One of the TOC’s priorities is to contribute to children’s development by providing them with opportunities to practice sport and we are proud to see the positive impact we are having on the lives of children in Gaziantep since the launch of the project.”
TOC Board member Seyit Bilal Porsun said: "When we first launched the project, we taught children basic skills in a few sports but have since expanded the curriculum to include six sport branches. We are committed to developing Syrian children in Gaziantep’s sporting abilities and their ties to our country.”