In the past, Sirnak, which borders both Iraq and Syria, was one of the PKK’s terror-stricken provinces in the south-east, but now it hosts an international tennis tournament at the foot of Mount Cudi.
Not so long ago, the name of the Turkish border province of Sirnak sounded like a troubled word because of the attacks of the PKK terrorist group in the region. Things have changed there now that the province currently hosts international tennis players from nine different countries.
Nearly a hundred international players from the UK, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tunisia, Poland, Iran and Georgia, as well as Turkish players aged 14 and under, took part in the event, expressing their gratitude for being part of the tournament.
Anas Ben Youssef, a 13-year-old Tunisian athlete, was one of them. “I love this place. It’s amazing. Nature is also good,” says Youssef World TRT while the two Tunisian players played a tense double match with two Turkish players from Istanbul. Sirnak is located near Mount Cudi (Judi), on the slopes of which Noah’s Ark came to its final resting place according to Islamic belief.
Youssef is part of the famous Tennis Club de Megrine in the capital Tunis. He has been playing tennis since the age of three. He played two games until yesterday afternoon, when World TRT interviewed him. “I won a single match while I lost a double match,” he says.
Youssef and his Tunisian teammates, including five girls and six boys, will stay at Sirnak until May 23, when the tournament ends. “I won my two matches,” said Ahmed Darmoil, another Tunisian, who is part of the Tennis Club de Tunis, a top Tunisian tennis club. He will play another six or seven matches.
“It’s a very good place”, says Darmoil World TRTreferring to Sirnak and its surroundings, where many of the world’s great ancient civilizations left their marks from the Iron Age to modern times.
Darmoil’s 14-year-old teammate Elaa Essid is also happy to have the opportunity to play in the Cudi Cup. “Fantastic people,” she says World TRT, referring to both the event organizers and the locals. Last year, Sirnak hosted its first national tennis tournament, setting the stage for the current international event.
Ameur Jawahdou, the coach of the Tunisian Cudi Cup tennis team, is pleased with the overall performance of his players in the tournament. He is a former tennis player and has coached different teams for over a decade.
“The organization of this tournament is better than many other similar events in France, Germany, Serbia and Poland. The courts are good and the people are so nice,” says Jawahdou World TRT. The Tunisian head coach has already participated in many European tournaments, playing and leading different teams.
“Accommodation is also good. They provide us with everything. It’s great to come here and take my players to this event,” says Jawahdou as the sounds of local folk dancers mingle with the sounds of rackets on Sirnak’s four open courts. The tournament also has two additional closed courts for rainy conditions.
Turkish efforts to transform the region
Achieving the good conditions that Jawahdou and his players describe for Sirnak has not been easy for Turkey, which has lost more than 40,000 people, including children and women, to the PKK’s four-decade campaign of terror. , which had been so intense in places like Sirnak. The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU.
After protecting the predominantly Kurdish-populated province from PKK attacks with numerous counter-terrorism operations in the southeastern and eastern regions, the Turkish government has taken various initiatives to improve public services and social life in the provinces. like Sirnak.
The Cudi Cup, held at the modern campus of Sirnak University located at the foot of Mount Cudi, is one of the clearest examples of the new Sirnak. “We have done the impossible together,” said Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu, the energetic Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, during a speech at the official ceremony of the tennis tournament on May 17.
As instructed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been working hard to improve conditions in terror-affected provinces in eastern Turkey for youth education and sports activities, by investing significantly at the local level and raising the hopes of very young people in the region. population, Kasapoglu said.
Dilan Oran, a 16-year-old high school student from Uludere of Sirnak, a border district hit by heavy PKK terrorist attacks, spoke enthusiastically about the tournament as Kasapoglu passionately described his ministry’s goals in Sirnak and the southeast region. .
“The tournament was very good for Sirnak for his recognition and development. We are very happy and honored to have players from foreign countries in this event,” Oran said. World TRT. Oran, a student at Sirnak Sport High School, attends a tennis event for the first time. “I’m very happy to be here,” she said.
After many bad days under the PKK’s terror campaign in which the young people of Sirnak “smelt the gunpowder” other than the fresh air, they now have the opportunity to participate in sports activities thanks to the pressure of Erdogan for various festivities and sporting events in the southeastern region, said Sirnak’s AK. Party mayor Mehmet Yarka during his speech at the official ceremony.
Oran also sees real signs of change in Sirnak. “A lot of people know Sirnak in a bad way, but that’s changing and it’s not like the good old days,” says Oran. “Sirnak is a different place now. It really is a beautiful place,” she adds.
While Oran loves tennis, her sporting goal is handball, which she has been practicing for six years. “This year, our high school team became champions in Sirnak,” she says.
Sibel Kayar, a 14-year-old high school student and another from Uludere, thinks similarly to Oran. “I think tournaments like the Cudi Cup have contributed to the positive development of Sirnak,” Kayar said. World TRT.
This tournament motivates students like her to focus on sports activities, according to Kayar. Like Oran, Kayar is also participating in a tennis event for the first time.
While Kayar loves tennis, she is more interested in volleyball, a branch of sport, in which the national and professional women’s volleyball teams of Türkiye have achieved many successes, including championships at international events.
“I play volleyball in my high school. I hope one day I can be a national volleyball player,” she says. “We will play a game tomorrow. I hope we can win it.
Source: World TRT