Monthly Archives: September 2010

Africa Cup

I have a feature on SETimes about Istanbul’s African Community Cup (see previous post).

From my story:

Can Vanli, a football manager who was part of the Turkish national coaching team, spent three months last year training around 40 African players.

“They had enough talent and motivation,” he said, “but it was very difficult to get a pitch. The time was limited, we had 40 players and it was too much. I was very sad that I couldn’t work with them longer.” 

Vanli said he started training with the players because he was in contention to be the coach for Liberia and wanted experience training Africans, but working with them soon became a passion.

Now coaching in the Maldives, he believes around 35 of the players, none of whom were signed, had the talent to play in Turkey’s top amateur league, the Super Amatör, which would earn them a salary of 1,000 Turkish lira a month, roughly 500 euros. Three or four, he said, had the skills to play in the Bank Asia league, the second tier of Turkish football.Vanli said he started training with the players because he was in contention to be the coach for Liberia and wanted experience training Africans, but working with them soon became a passion.

“No one in the Super Amatör is serious about these players. They say, ‘we have enough Turkish players, and if we took African players it’s too much money.'”

A major hurdle is that residence permit required for hiring, the cost of which must usually be covered by the club.

You can read the whole thing here.


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Recent work…

Armenian pilgrims worship in the Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island, Lake Van, September 19
Shameful lack of posting of late, through what have been interesting, busy times. Here are links to some of my recent work.
The weekend before last I travelled to Van to report on the reopening for a one-off Mass of the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island. 
You can read my report for the Times here, also have a piece coming out on SETimes looking at the Kurdish aspect to this, which will appear soon. My colleague Justin Vela has an excellent piece and accompanying photo essay on this same event for Transitions Online. You can read it here.
Having managed the impressive feat of not once blogging about the September 12 referendum, I thought it might be prudent to post some links to my work on it, just to prove I didn’t actually sleep through the whole thing. You can read it here, here, and here. Most recently, I did an audio podcast for SETimes on the roots of the AKP’s enduring success – and the enduring failure of the secular opposition to dent their support. You can listen to it here.
I also had a piece in today’s Times featuring an interview with the very recently arrived Iranian dissident Rahim Hemati, also a former member of the youth wing of the country’s notorious Basij Militia. 
He spoke of his experiences in the Basij, of his arrest and imprisonment during the brutal crackdown following last years elections, and shared his views on the state of the Green Movement, and the regime, which he described as ‘rotten, and close to collapse’. You can read the interview here.
Rahim Hemati, a 28-year-old Iranian dissident blogger, moments after applying for temporary asylum in Istanbul

Escape from Evin

I had a piece out in Saturday’s Times about an Iranian dissident journalist, Shahabaddin Sheikhi, who had an extraordinarily lucky escape from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

Sheikhi had been writing about women’s rights and Kurdish issues and had also been active in the Green Movement following the regime’s disgraceful stitch up of the last elections.

For doing this he was facing charges which would have resulted in lengthy imprisonment or even execution. Sheikhi was rounded up along with thousands of others on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution in February.

As the prison was overloaded with an intake of new prisoners, he was able to surreptitiously join a group of those being released.

Those with a subscription can read the story here.