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Turkish beach volleyball: the future is bright

Turkey's Meliha Ismailoglu and Esra Butil Cetin and their coach Carlos Galletti
Myslowice, Poland, June 11, 2014 - Beach volleyball in Turkey has some strong competition from volleyball, like in many countries. Young players are attracted by the money, role models and superstars like Neslihan Demir and Naz Aydemir.

But it’s time for change, says Ozkan Mutlugil, president of the Turkish Volleyball Federation. The federation contracted the experienced Brazilian coach Carlos ‘Alemao’ Galletti and started building beach volleyball centres all over the country.

The latest and biggest complex was finished this year in Antalya and the CEV qualification event for the Youth Olympics in Nanjing was held there in May. And Mutlugil, who is attending the FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championships in Myslowice this week, has more plans.

"We will have more centres and spread beach volleyball all over Turkey. Within a couple of years we will have more courts and players and maybe some clubs that specialise in beach volleyball and we will develop beach volleyball all over Turkey."

The main focus of the federation and head coach Galletti is on youth players. "We have to create new teams, especially for the U19 and U21. It’s OK to play indoor and beach, but from a certain age we have to have specialised beach volleyball players. That’s why we contracted Carlos Galletti."

Galletti came to Myslowice with a men’s and a women’s team. Sefa Urlu and Yigit Onayli started in the men’s qualification, but did not make it to the main draw. The girls Esra Betul Cetin and Meliha Ismailoglu had their first main draw match on Wednesday.

It was their first FIVB experience and the first time the two played together. They lost 2-0 (21-10, 21-11) to the much more experienced German team Behrens/Seyfferth.

20-year-old Bosnian-Turkish Ismailoglu said: “It was the first time we played together and we are playing such a big tournament. It’s a good experience, we played against an experienced team."

"We had a few mistakes, but we learned from them and will try not to make them again," said Cetin, who last month in Antalya secured a spot for the Youth Olympics in Nanjing with Selin Yurtsever. Ismailogu: "Since this is our first tournament, we just try to win as much as we can. You can’t expect a big success or anything but we try to do our best."

Both girls are volleyball players who switch to beach volleyball in the summer. And like many others they love beach volleyball. "It’s much more interesting, it’s only two players and you can make your own game," said Cetin. But most players, including Cetin and Ismailoglu, find volleyball more attractive at the moment.

"Right now I have bigger goals in indoor," Ismailoglu said. "I started playing beach volleyball last year and I really love it. But right now indoor comes in first place, but maybe some day I will switch."

"In volleyball the players can make more money," Mutlugil admitted. "That’s a big disadvantage for beach volleyball. But we are modifying our marketing plans and we will have more beach volleyball players in a few years."

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