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|Physical Address:||Department of Economics Bilkent University, Bilkent Ankara 06800, Turkey|
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Cricket in Turkey is surprisingly old, with games having been played in Istanbul in the early 20th century. It was big enough for one of Turkey's biggest football clubs, Fenerbahce, to even establish its own cricket branch in 1911. Unfortunately, the First World War resulted in cricket dying out in Istanbul and it is only now, almost a century later, that cricket has once again taken root. Unofficial local games have been played for a number of years in the Turkish capital Ankara and in 2004 a few enthusiasts got together to try and set up a proper structure for the game. Getting support from the sports centre of Bilkent University, June 2005 saw Turkey's first domestic cricket competition, sponsored by the local company Kimlik, with four clubs taking part. Thanks to assistance from ICC Europe, matches were played on a Flicx pitch.
The next step in the organisational development of cricket in Turkey was to get Turkish state backing. The General Directorate of Sports (Gençlik ve Spor Genel Müdürlügü) decided to form a Federation of Developing Sports on 21 December 2006 and, after approaches from the Turkish cricket community, 'kriket' was included officially as a 'developing sport'.
The Turkish Cricket Board (TCB) was then formed with its offices kindly provided by Prof. Abdullah Atalar, Rector of Bilkent University, who has been a great supporter of developing the game from its humble beginnings.
With state recognition, an official board established and regular competitions, the TCB in September 2007 applied for Membership of the ICC. At the ICC Annual Conference in July 2008, Turkey was granted ICC Affiliate Membership and is now qualified to play international cricket. Dr. Hayri Özkan, Director of Sports of the Physical Education Unit at Bilkent University, and Dr. Syed F. Mahmud, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Bilkent, played a leading role in laying down the administrative structure of the board and in implementing the ICC development pathways with the support of ICC and Bilkent University. Several ICC level 1 coaching and umpiring courses have been organized at the facility provided by the Bilkent Sports Center. Most of the matches of the two domestic leagues have also been played at one of the grounds at Bilkent.
Turkey's first ever international matches took place in Corfu, Greece during the ICC European Championship Division 5 in September 2009. Although its baptism proved to a difficult one, Turkey did at least claim its first victory when it defeated Bulgaria. In the absence of any government funding for the event, Amir Salim Khan of BMAK provided full financial support to the Turkish squad in their first international participation.
In their second international participation in Ljubljana, Slovenia, during the ICC European Championship Division 3 in May 2011, Turkey could win two of the five matches. They were able to beat both Bulgaria and Czech Republic.
There are seven regular teams that take part in domestic men's cricket in Turkey. Six of the teams are based in Ankara and one in Istanbul.
In 2009, the seven teams were split into two leagues with all games being played at Bilkent University in the capital. League A, consisting the teams of Bilkent, Middle East Technical University and Desi of Istanbul, played 30-over matches whilst League B, with the teams Red Lions, Friends United, Ankara Stars and Ankara Tigers, played a Twenty20 version of the game. The winner of each league then contests the Republic Cup.
Starting from scratch in late 2008, Turkey faced a difficult task in introducing cricket to Turkish youngsters, most of whom have never even heard of the game, let alone thought of playing it.
All programmes have to begin somewhere and so Turkey's first-ever junior cricket programme got underway in April 2009 at Ankara's Bilkent University Preparatory School (BUPS), with boys and girls in the third, fourth and fifth grades getting the chance to lay bat on ball. Under the supervision of BUPS Physical Education teacher David Ogilvie, the boys and girls learnt the basics of batting, bowling and fielding. The eight-week course, which is supported by the Turkish Cricket Board and ICC Europe, ended with a 'Super Eight' competition. A second cricket coaching course at BUPS took place in September 2009, this time with students in Years Six, Seven and Eight taking part. Plans are afoot to expand the programme to other private schools in the Turkish capital.
The Turkish Cricket Board has also started to recruit students at Bilkent University who have never played the game before.
In 2010, the board was able to organize the first Junior Cricket Camp in one of the most populated districts of Ankara. Boys and girls of different age groups participated in the activity. The Mayor of the Keçiören District, Mr. Mustafa AK, has agreed to support the promotion and development of the game in future. It is hoped that this will give major boost to the development program at the grass root level and will lead to more participation of juniors in the other districts of Ankara.