The Turkey girls’ football team qualified for the tournament in Singapore without conceding a single goal. Following a commanding 16-0 victory over Georgia, the Turks comfortably defeated Moldova 5-0 in their second match. The 18-strong squad is coached by Hamdi Aslan, who supervises all his country’s representative girls’ and women’s teams.

Football has been played extensively and for a long time in Turkey. Estimates put the number of active players at some 2.7 million, with approximately 4,500 officially registered clubs. The senior men’s team has generally been the most successful at international level. Turkey twice contested the FIFA World Cup™ finals, in 1954 and 2002, finishing an outstanding third in Korea and Japan eight years ago. The south Europeans also took third place at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2003, and their youngsters came fourth at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2005.

The women’s national team made their international debut with an 8-0 reverse against Romania in 1995. Further defeats followed, before a maiden victory away to Georgia two years later. Initial attempts to establish a national women’s league foundered, but real progress has been made in recent years. At the end of 2007, some 600 women were registered to play in Turkey, with the trend definitely on the up. An encouraging sign is the increasing involvement of the political world in supporting schemes to promote the girls’ and women’s game.

Neither the girls’ nor senior women’s national teams have qualified for a major international tournament up to now, but given the reserves of energy and determination in the country, that can surely only be a matter of time. Qualification for the Girls Youth Olympic Football Tournament 2010 in Singapore appears a positive first step on that road. And the Turkish girls will also have the honour of contesting the official opening match of the tournament when they meet Iran at Jalan Besar Stadium on 12 August.