Published on December 6th, 2015 | by Mert Altay
East London’s Turkish football ‘family’
Duzcespor, Turkmenkoy, Esenler FC – just some of the teams that transport a piece of Turkey to the football pitches of East London every weekend.
There are approximately 350,000 people of Turkish origin in the capital, and the Turkish Community Football Federation was formed in the 1976 to give their love of football a focus.
The TCFF organises a Sunday league with two divisions featuring a total of 20 teams. As well as a first XI most also have under-14, U-16 and U-20 squads, plus veteran teams for over 35s and over 45s.
Every match is fiercely contested, with local pride at stake because each team has its roots in, and represents, a town or village in Turkey or North Cyprus.
The standard is decent – some semi-professional players can pick up more than £100 a game at the better-resourced clubs in Division One.
Duzcespor FC chairman Rahman Jay said: “This league gives both the Turkish youth and those from different ethnic backgrounds the opportunity to work together as a team and fight for success.
“We have 10 Turkish players in our squad and four non-Turks, and we are a big family competing.”
“I will take the whole team on a summer holiday if we win the league”
Jay added: “Of course, every community in London is the affected by gangs and crime, and our the league and team officials do their best to keep young people away from bad environments.”
Matches are played at Hackney Marshes and in Walthamstow and Edmonton. Coaches in the league include former Reading and Exeter midfielder Danny Bailey, and talented young players are scouted by clubs in the UK as well as Turkey and Cyprus.
The league gets plenty of coverage in London-based Turkish newspapers and websites, and Turkish businesses sponsor teams.
And the rewards for winning the title of best Turkish team in London?
Duzcespor FC chairman Jay declared: “I will take the whole team on a summer holiday if we win the league as a reward for becoming champions.”