Three Brothers’ Cherished Dream Of Playing Football In Istanbul
Three brothers, the eldest one being 15 years old, are working three days a week in the fruit and vegetable bazaar in order to support their nine-member family, and after 15 hours of continuous work each earns 30 Turkish lira a day (less than $6).
In the morning, Muqtada, Meqdad and Muthanna al-Abdallah sell fresh vegetables and fruit, to return home in the evening with the remains of vegetables, mostly rotten, which they are forced to eat instead of their only alternative, air.
The hard labor did not preclude the three brothers from following their passion for football as Muqtada (15 years) and Muthanna (12 years) are committed to training in an academy affiliated to Istanbul Municipality, while Meqdad (13 years) is practicing football at al- Hadaf Academy.
The three brothers’ father, Ahmad Khair al-Abdallah (aged 50), told Enab Baladi that his sons’ love for football started from their early childhood, observing him constantly watching football. Al-Abdallah said, “they inherited this habit from me, I even followed the football club news, the match results and the updates of the football transfer market.”
“My children used to go to school and attended the al-Jazeera Sports Club’s training in al- Hasakah governorate where we are originally from, but our suffering began with the absence of safety there,” the father said, describing his family’s life before moving to Turkey.
The family home in al-Hasakah was destroyed during the war there. Then, the father sold his property to cross the border into Turkey, seeking “to live a life free from shelling and clashes,” as he told Enab Baladi.
The family, however, continued to suffer in the new residence, the father added, saying that his children are now denied enrollment in school because they have not got any aid, “except for the relief package provided by the Turkish waqf.”
“My children work in fruit and vegetable bazaar. On other days, they are committed to sports training,” he added.
The director and the coach of al-Hadaf Academy Ahmad Abu Alam talked about Meqdad’s talent, the middle brother, who plays as a goalkeeper. Abu Alam pointed out that Meqdad had been trained by the best goalkeepers in Syria, including Nafie Abd al-Qadir, and when he came to Turkey he held to his skill and kept polishing it. “He is a talented and passionate player. ”
According to the coach, Turkey has asked many players to join its teams, but Meqdad cannot apply for Turkish sports clubs due to the laws that ban taking in players who arrived in Turkey illegally. Apologetic, he said “the academy is full of talents, which are buried due to that law.”
“Turkey has provided great facilities for Syrians, especially with regard to education, while many obstacles are still ahead of the sports field,” the coach added.
He gives the Jordanian, Lebanese and Egyptian Federations of Sports as examples, stating, “they treat the Syrian player as a local player and do not consider him a foreigner. We would have liked the Turkish Federation to act the same.”
The director and the coach of Al Hadaf Academy, full of confidence, continued to say that “if we found a solution for Syrian players who entered Turkey illegally, we would see these players in the first and second tiers of the Turkey national youth football team in a few years.”
The Turkish government has taken action at an individual level regarding the young Syrian players, which happened in the case of the child Adam Metin, who was granted Turkish citizenship for playing in the Turkey national youth football team after the chair of Aslan Gücü Sports Club in Istanbul was impressed by his talent.
Adam has gained the nickname ‘new Messi,’ and received praise from the former President of the Turkish Football Federation, Yıldırım. Nonetheless, Meqdad, his brothers, and other Syrian lovers of football in Turkey are still impeded by the legal obstacles which prevent them from achieving their dreams.
When he is old enough, Meqdad dreams of playing for Futbol Club Barcelona, taking its German international goalkeeper Ter Stegen as his role model.
His father has the same dream, wishing that his three children will play in the Turkish stadiums, and reach up to the stage of professionalism, in the hope that one of his children might qualify for the Spanish league one day.