Women’s team formed to prevent ‘child marriages’ storms in league
A women’s football team established in the eastern province of Ağrı by the provincial directorate of family and social policies to promote sports among girls and prevent early marriages has become a regional giant with four wins in five matches this season.
The “Ağrı Women’s Team,” formed six years ago with a motto of “Let girls wear football jerseys rather than bridal gowns,” is not sitting at the top of the N Group of the Turkish Women’s Third League.
The team’s 20 players, aged between 14 and 18, who are eyeing being promoted to Second League this year, dream that “one day they will be playing in Turkish Women’s Süper Lig.”
“We have come a long way in football in Ağrı, a place where once parents did not send girls to schools. Now a women’s team is all-victorious leader,” Cemil Budak, the head of the Sports Department of the provincial directorate of family and social policies, told Demirören News Agency.
Citing the project’s motto, Budak reminded, “We offered sports to the city’s girls, not bridal dresses. We succeeded.”
Expressing his happiness, the local official thanked all those who had had any part in this success.
“We are demolishing a prejudice of ‘Women can’t play football.’ I am realizing my dream,” Ayça Taşdemir, a 17-year-old striker of the team, said proudly.
Continuing her education in a sports high school, Taşdemir made a call to all the girls across the country. “Love sports. Love football more.”
She is elated to be a part of the team, but her mother is more proud than her. “I am a housewife. I oppose early marriages. and I support my daughter who is playing football,” Zinnet Taşdemir said happily.
“I want her to graduate and play football. I can not stand against her will. I want a bright future for her,” the mother added.
Expressing her dream of playing in the national football team, Ayça Taşdemir said: “I want to play in the national team. I will do all my best to make it happen.”
Halit Çelen, who has been coaching the team for four years, is also delighted about the team sitting at the top rank of its group.
“Football is not only a men’s game anymore. We have broken taboos here in Ağrı in four years,” Çelen noted.
Ağrı Women’s Team beat Iğdır Altınove Spor 4-2 in the last match played in Ağrı on April 9.
“It all started with an idea that girls should not be child brides anymore. What we have done here in Ağrı is a start, a pilot project,” Budak stressed.
Stating that more girls and women in the city are showing interest in sports day by day, the local official highlighted, “I hope we can prevent child marriages.”
A minimum of five teams play in each of 16 groups at the Turkish Women’s Third League, while 26 teams compete in four groups in the Turkish Women’s Second League.
Turkish Women’s Süper Lig started this season with 24 teams in two groups, with football giants such as Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzon working up a sweat for the trophy.