Sunday, May 13, 2012

En Büyük Galatasaray!!!

I am from New England, a place where we take baseball seriously. Where we cheer for the Boston Red Sox... or whoever beats the New York Yankees. Where we sing "Sweet Caroline" -BA BA BA!- and we'll "Take [You] Out to the Ballgame." I am a Sox fan, and proud of it.
I think this might be why I can easily understand the rivalry between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe - the two biggest football (soccer) teams in Turkey.
I support Galatasaray, one of the teams from İstanbul. Their colors are red and gold, and their mascot is a lion. (How could I not support them, it's Gryffindor!) My first host grandmother and my second family are  huge supporters, and their enthusiasm transfered on to me. I've found that no matter where I go, no matter what I do, people will ask what team I support. It helps to find something in common, to find something to talk about, something like football.
Watching Galatasaray supporters march down the street in Kızılay
Yesterday, it was the final match of the season, down to the last two teams - Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. After spending a delightful day in Kızılay with some friends and buying lots of Galatasaray merchandise, I went to the Golf Club with Fernanda and my second host family. We sat in our chairs and ate tavuk şiş, on the edge of our seats, waiting to see who would win the championship. My host sister, Naz, kept coming over and screaming "EN BÜYÜK GALATASARAY!" (Galatasaray is the best!) We couldn't help but to agree with her. Balls were kicked, red cards were given, but no goals were scored. With a tie of zero, the game went into overtime. Because Galatasaray had won the previous game, they were declared the winners! ŞAMPIYON!!!
Going to this game definitely helped me to see a bit into Turkish culture - they LOVE their football! Being able to experience this with my Turkish friends and family really helped me to see how important football is here, how it brings Turks together to support teams and creates an interesting dynamic in society. I can remember how when I was living with my first host mother, the little boys on the servis (schoolbus) would ask me "Hangi takım tutuyorsun?" and I would respond with Galatasaray. While some of the boys would give me high-fives and cheer for "Cim bom bom" others would cluck their tongues and shake their heads. (Girl picked the wrong team, tsktsk).

Overall, I really enjoyed this experience - following the games throughout the season, waiting to see what it all boiled down to - who would win, who would lose. Being a part of it and seeing the final match really helped me to understand how sports are really important and how they can bring people together, no matter where they are from.