The African dream of football is played in Istanbul

Take a lopsided sports cap and with the visor up on the thin face, and huge red headphones over her ears covering. From a distance it is still possible to hear a rhythmic, danceable tune, though he barely moved a muscle, standing facing a field of empty suit flanking a pair of goals with broken network . It gives a bite to ‘simit’ having in hand and after removing some sesame seeds bread Turkish thread has left him on the lips, check out the sky. There are dark clouds moving in huge scrolls and blows cold air.

Take a drink of water and light kicks, unconscious, to an imaginary ball. There is still a long time for the party Adnan, a Somali who prefers to use only his first name, played at the stadium of Fatih in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates these days an international championship of African teams. A kind of African Nations Cup in exile where the community of this continent forget for a few days which is not always welcome in Turkey.

Adnan likes to arrive early, sit in the stands. To concentrate. Find a place below deck seats and stares at the field from a different perspective now. With the goals left and right. Watching the green and red paint covering the strands of artificial turf. His team, his country, Somalia, today faces reigning champions Ghana. Adnan is sure to win. Play with the number 15.

“A manager contacted me in Africa and offered me to join a great club. He stayed with my money and I got stuck here “explains Adnan Somali.

Since 2004 the championship gives many African the opportunity to show their talent scouts from local clubs . So they say the organizers. Most players like Adnan, arrived in Turkey with a dream to join a team and then make the leap to Europe. The reality was quite different: “A manager in Africa contacted me and offered me to join a great club, but when I got here I discovered that the agent was lying: no papers, no contact with any club. I stayed with my money and that’s it. I got stuck here. “

Adnan speaks dispassionately, looking at the still empty field and occasionally watching the sky where thunder begin to be felt the closeness of the storm. “I do not want to go back to Africa. I came to get a better life , to offer better opportunities to the generation that follows me in Somalia; to help my family. Just get survive while you’re here. For this game yet. ” Disappointment, despair, the feeling mocked when he arrived four years ago and saw their dream fade have only served to Adnan wants to fight harder . “While there is life there is hope and still believe I can get it. There is a lot of talent here, they can leave many Christians Ronaldos “.

Many African playing in Turkish teams like Cameroon Aurélien Chedjou, Galatasaray (EFE) Many African playing in Turkish teams like Cameroon Aurélien Chedjou, Galatasaray ( EFE)

Objective: to create African ties

Some of his teammates begin to appear in the entry field or coming down the stairs coming from the offices and costumes. Adnan drains his bottle of water and strikes the hand of one of them who comes to say hello. Little by little red seats including cubes have been placed foreseeing rain, fill with accents and different faces. Malians, Nigerians, Ghanaians and Cameroonians … so to draw the continent faces and accents . A man in a suit, with almost two meters tall crosses flustered toward the stairs. From his neck hangs accreditation organizer. Joseph Ndong is, sports agent and one of those who make this African championship a reality.

“Our first goal is create links between African Community . In the field tensions forget, politics and played for the pleasure of playing. No matter who wins, the rivalry is sport, but sport is precisely one of the vectors of union between all of us. ” Joseph speaks Castilian sweet, with a Latin flavor, he learned in the time he lived in Chile. It is part of the organization since 2004, began to celebrate the Cup. A tournament that says, “has been grow and attract sponsors , until it has finally received the support of the City Council of Istanbul” . To Ndong is an achievement as much as getting any of the players get to fulfill his dream of a career as player in Turkey and who knows if in Europe.

“Many teams hold their training camps in Turkey, and is a good place to know players,” said the agent Joseph Ndong

Turkey is a hub [node] of international football . Many teams hold their training camps here and is a good place to know the players, “he says. The second objective of the championship is precisely that scouts, agents and managers can know the quality of African players. Many have been professionals in their countries, others played in junior categories or university teams and everyone is willing to let the skin for the game .

“I have already contacted two agents, “Adnan said. That is why he is confident that his team achieved sneak into the final. If you do, you think you will have more opportunities that you do contract for the next season.

Turkey is not an easy country for African . Adnan arrived three months ago to Istanbul from dela coastal city of Samsun. There were things more difficult, but trained and continues to train daily. Almost all they survive with temporary jobs, many end up picking and choosing trash, others do some service for other Africans who have businesses. There are no statistics on the number of Africans living in the country, but their presence is increasingly visible in districts such as Kurtulus, Osmanbey or Dolapdere in Istanbul. More than 4,500 students have received scholarships to come to Turkey. The largest communities are from Nigeria and Somalia. Since 2011, Somalia has also been the African country more humanitarian aid received from Turkey and the interest of the Turkish government has been increasing, resulting in an increase in bilateral collaborations with other states on the continent.

African players train at a stadium in Istanbul (MA Sanchez) African players train at a stadium in Istanbul (MA Sanchez)

“I prefer my team my country “

Seeing them observe the field, laughing, humming or debate on whether or not it will rain (meanwhile the thunder and lightning occur more and more often) seem out of context. However, when in nearby seats a couple of gentlemen with individual Turkish mustaches, several children and some Turkish adolescents, the words of Ndong, about the possibilities of using football to bridge seem to make sense to feel .

Some players have put the shirt and are heating up in the field. A young Malian long as a whistle, skinny and with braided hair dyed blond, gives a masterly touches head with well placed shoulders, tensing the muscles. A gaping boy of about 11 years, stopped as if he had he forgotten where he was in the middle of the pitch, seems to be of the same opinion.

Even in the stands, Joseph Nmoniyl is glad that is cooling . “We are accustomed to the climate of Istanbul,” he jokes. It has a large angular face and a broad back and saw some sweatpants that seem to come up short for his enormous stature. Very different from the thin face and the stylized figure of Adnan and fibrous. Joseph is the keeper of Somalia though born far from that country, indeed across the continent, Ghana. “Sometimes there are not enough soccer players in a country and form mixed teams. That is the African unity. The important thing is to strengthen our bonds of friendship … and play. “He says.

” Sometimes there are not enough players from one country and form mixed teams. That’s the African unity “, says the Ghanaian Joseph Nmoniyl

Joseph, 24, was a student of Civil Engineering while playing professionally in Ghana. Today he faces the team of his country but bursts out laughing when I ask if you prefer then you win your country. “ I prefer my team and work together to win. When you play must give everything, and that’s what I intend to do.”

His dream is to become a professional player in Europe, “being goalkeeper in a European team, get a good contract and good opportunities for the future “, he stresses. “But in any case I will try to keep moving forward, I will seek new opportunities that allow me to be somebody. That is life, keep fighting no matter what happens. That is our strength. Africans are strong and although things here are not easy not lose hope. Life is an opportunity, “he says.

With a smile, Joseph says goodbye to join the rest of the team warming up on the field, Adnan, Malian of golden hair … all with the mind set already in the party and sneak into the end of the day 18. the storm is already a reality of lightning accompanied by thunder and heavy rain, but if all impediments found to achieve his dream have failed to deter them from train daily forget that once many were professional football or college students in their country and now must live without papers as second class citizens, says the young Ghanaian, “how will make it a spring shower! “

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