By: Breno Giacomini (NY Jets) and Gary Barnidge (Cleveland Browns)
We have arrived in Istanbul, Turkey! Ready to spread American Football as well as give back to the Istanbul communities.
Amazing to think this city is over 7000 years old. Our hotel is located in Europe; however right across the Bosphorus River is Asia. It is crazy to think you can be on two different continents in five minutes.
Last night Charles Hunter, Istanbul’s Consulate General, welcomed us to the US Consulate’s House. The party was a great way to kick off our camp as well as get to meet some great kids from the Special Olympics that we will be working with later in the week.
Today we had our media event and there were a lot of great questions about the future of American Football in Istanbul.
We were interested to find out that American Football was started in Turkey in 1980; however did not really start its growth until 2001 when the developing teams began to receive the equipment necessary to play American football and that has helped Turkey to structure their game more professionally. They even have produced one standout NFL football player – Tunch Ilken – who played twelve seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and one with the Green Bay Packers and was named to two pro bowls.
Today there are two main leagues – University Football Federation and Turkish American Football Federation. The University Football Federation caters to college and has 36 teams and Turkish American Football Federation caters to adults and has 20 teams. Additionally, there is Turkish website dedicated solely to College, Turkish, and NFL American Football called www.nfltr.com – Fox Sports even televised the Super Bowl this year with commentators in Turkey.
This afternoon Istanbul Technical University (ITU) has been gracious enough to allow us to use their facilities and host a Coaches Clinic for the Turkish American Football Coaches Association. Over 300 Coaches will be in attendance and we will be breaking down game films and providing drills to help further the game of American Football.
Erkin Palaz, one of the ITU Hornets Coaches and Player, has quickly become a great friend of AFWB Camps and has been instrumental in helping us get this event organized.
We are excited to be here in Istanbul and are hoping we will find several more players that will sometime have the opportunity to lineup next to us in the NFL.
From now through March 6th be sure you follow AFWB Camps – @afwbcamps / www.afwbcamp.com / instagram / facebook – as well as the social media outlets of our NFL players in attendance.
Alex Mack – @alexmack55
Gary Barnidge – @garybarnidge
Jordan Cameron – @jordancameron
Barkevious Mingo – @keke_mingo
Johnson Bademosi – @j_bademosi24
DeAngelo Williams – @DeAngeloRB
Thomas Keiser – @ThomasKeiser
Breno Giacomini – @68Breno
Marshawn Lynch – @MoneyLynch
Cooper Helfet – @CooperHelfet
Will Sivtek – @WillSvitek
Can’t wait to experience the Turkey culture and meeting our Turkish fans.
Breno Giacomini and Gary Barnidge