Navigating to Norway: Team Turkey

by Kamil Urgun and Can Kaytaz

On July 8-9 2017, 15 national teams from all over Europe will compete in Oslo, Norway for the title of European Champion. The next article in our European Games 2017 series is on Team Turkey.

Roster

Berk Akyüz
Fatih Aykurt
Cemre Avcı
Utku Bağ
Cansu Bozkurt
Berke Gökçeoğlu
Tarkan Gökkaya
Arif Gülbiter *
Tarık Berk Gürsel
Ahmet can Karakadılar (Captain)
Olgaç Can Öztürk *
Ata Sarçın
Ecem Bedriye Satıcı *
Fatma Serttaş *
Ali Deniz Uçar *
Yaren Uçar
İdil Ulusoy *
Çağatay Ural
Kamil Urgun (Captain)
Nilsu Yerlikaya
Sıla Yüksel

* denotes players who will also be seeking

Interview with Head Coach Kaan Bolat

Quidditch Post: How are you preparing your team for European Games?
Bolat: We had three practice sessions to determine the final 21, and the elected 21 are having a final camp of nine days right before the tournament.

QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Bolat: Beating everyone and getting the cup of course.

QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Bolat: We are already playing with the top four teams on Day One, which was something I desired. However, I’d like to play against teams we have never played before; Team Ireland would be great because I’m really curious about Bex McLaughlin‘s coaching, Sweden are pretty new so it would be good to play against and get to know them.

Turkey defeated Belgium at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Bolat: Well, the flight prices destroyed us. There were a lot of people who had to drop out due to financial reasons since Norway is a very expensive country.

QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players or underrated players we should watch out for?
Bolat: We will be playing the fast paced and strong game of the METU Unicorns that Europe is now aware of. The player depth is really good in our squad, and I believe many people will be surprised by our performance, especially in the beater game and quaffle passing.

There are a couple of players from the ITU Honeybees who will be underrated because of the team’s EQC performance, and a couple of game changers from BOUN Centaurs. People who make the mistake of underrating these players will probably suffer a lot.

QP: Is there anything you want to add?
Bolat: This year METU Unicorns have done a tremendous job and went to the EQC final, but they could not finish the job by taking the cup. I personally am aware of my mistakes in the final game, learned my lessons, and won’t make the same mistakes again. Having a squad with this quality and the lessons learned at EQC, I am highly motivated to get that title, and will make sure all members of Team Turkey from the staff to every player are as motivated as I am. We will take that trophy back with us.

Analysis

Turkey is a country improving its quidditch rapidly. In terms of both clubs and national level, Turkish teams are getting better results each year. The first iteration of Team Turkey finished in sixth place at the European Games in 2015; one year later at World Cup 2016 they also took sixth place, arguably worth more due to the higher number of teams competing. Most recently, the final performance of the METU Unicorns at the European Quidditch Cup (EQC) 2017 shed a bright light on Turkish quidditch.

Some of the faces in Team Turkey are very well known in European quidditch. Head coach Kaan Bolat, captain Kamil Urgun, Ecem Bedriye Satıcı, and Sıla Yüksel will be playing for Team Turkey for the third time in a row. Additionally, Fatih Aykurt, Çağatay Ural, Ahmet Can Karakadılar (captain), Olgaç Can Öztürk, and Yaren Uçar were part of the World Cup 2016 squad and they are coming to Norway to represent the country one more time. Four of these players were nominated as part of the EQC 2017 all-star team, and all six Unicorns who were in the starting line-up in the EQC final are also playing for Turkey this summer.

Karakadılar is one of the best point chasers in Europe and he will be the core of the Turkish defence. When it comes to attack, we often see Turkish beaters pressing beyond the hoops of their opponent. Here, Satıcı and Nilsu Yerlikaya are two beaters to look out for. Furthermore, with his six catches and overwhelming beating at EQC 2017, Ali Deniz Uçar was a key player for the Unicorns and he certainly is precious for the national team.

Ecem Bedriye Satıcı chasing at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Even though they are not nominated as favourites over France and Team UK, the aim of Team Turkey is to bring the gold medal home. If they play at their best quidditch in Norway, Team Turkey is capable of beating any team in Europe. The question is if they can keep up a high performance level all weekend.