At the invitation of the Bandirma Jets Amerikan Futbol Takımı and Bandirma Onyedi Eylül Üniversitesi, Global Sports Partners spent the last weekend of June leading an American Football development clinic in Bandirma, Turkey. Project staff included two current NCAA Division I college football players, seven American football coaching experts with over 100 years of combined football coaching experience, a former NFL player and Super Bowl Champion who is currently an NCAA power-five conference (Atlantic Coast Conference) referee, three GSP Turkey representatives, and several Turkish American football coaches from the local area.
We were thrilled to instruct more than 100 athletes over the course of the weekend, including 32 youth players aged 15-18. This number is particularly important to GSP as we work to build a strong foundation for the future of American football in Turkey. The players’ clinic was open to players of all ages and skillsets and involved participants as young as 15 who experienced the sport for the first time, university students who play recreationally, and men who currently play in the professional Turkish American Football League. In addition to the players, we were thrilled by the number of local American football coaches who came to participate in the camp as well. Having these coaches in attendance was a positive aspect of this project, as they possess the ability and influence to continue mentoring and developing athletes while growing the sport throughout the country.
The project began on the campus of Bandirma Onyedi Eylül Üniversite. Local coaches, players, and university officials gathered in the university auditorium for an introduction with the American coaches and athletes. The introductory meeting set the course for camp, informed the participants of what to expect, and included a question and answer segment for the local players. Attendees were deeply engaged, asking questions regarding playing careers, dialoguing about opportunities to advance and improve, and seeking insight on how to best recover from injuries. After the meeting ended, all players and coaches were shuttled to the practice facility for the beginning of the skills section of the clinic.
The first day of camp included warm-ups, stretching exercises, and conditioning as coaches focused on the proper technique of how to prepare for practice mentally and physically. Players were then divided into groups according to their positions for specific training and individual skill development.
Day two began exactly how day one ended with players quickly moving to position specific groups to work on skill advancement. Each position group was led by at least one American coach, while most groups had multiple coaches working alongside the players. After the morning session, players and coaches returned to the hotel where they were greeted by the President of the American Football Federation of Turkey. Players were then given an updated synopsis and clarification of newly enacted NCAA football rules for the 2018 season, as well as education on some of the most important rules for safety- like proper tackling and targeting. This presentation came from Mike Morton, a former NFL linebacker and current ACC referee. After Morton’s presentation, players returned to the playing field for full contact drills and scrimmages.
The final day of camp was full of energy, excitement, and passionate competition. The clinic began with a simulated scrimmage, as players had the opportunity to practice their new skills against each other and play in a game-like atmosphere. In the final segment of our clinic, each position group participated in agility, speed, and strength competitions to determine who was the quickest, fastest, and strongest athletes in camp. Players were awarded points based on how they performed in each competition with one athlete from each position group winning a grand prize for a first-place finish.
As we reflect on another outstanding American football camp with the Bandirma Jets, Global Sports Partners is once again grateful for its partnership with the team and filled with even more excitement for the future of the sport in Turkey. Everyone who attended the camp came away with anticipation for what is in store for the growth of American football. There was a buzz around camp that did not stop at its conclusion, and we can’t wait to be a part of what’s next!
As we witness the sport gain popularity, GSP plans to continue to do its part in training and educating players, coaches, officials, and local sport leaders. It is our passion to see the practice, growth, and development of sport throughout the world as it inspires purpose for all.