On a two-month working road trip from California to Minnesota, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania stopped into Sequim for a few days to gather information for her senior English thesis.
An aspiring writer, Brennan Cusack is traveling around the country to different locations experiencing controversial environmental impacts and investigating the different perspectives which she intends to document in her thesis. Cusack came to the peninsula to research the Elwha dam removal. Cusack is no virgin to being far from home and traveling, in fact she recently returned from a multi-month study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey.
As a soccer player herself, she quickly discovered playing soccer in Istanbul as a woman is much different than playing in America. In the midst of the World Cup, let’s take a look at soccer in another part of the world.
“I went to study abroad in Istanbul and I knew another girl going with me who I played soccer with at Penn. And so, we were looking to play soccer when we got to Turkey to you know … keep in shape and that sort of thing. We heard there was a club soccer team and they had a girls team so we went to a practice and joined in.
We got to practice and everyone was wearing running shoes and that is when we realized that they didn’t use soccer balls in their soccer practice. My friend and I decided this was not the kind of soccer we were looking for. Instead they ran drills and then at the very end of practice a soccer ball did appear, but instead of playing soccer with it, the coach said we were going to play ‘hand ball’ with the soccer ball.
So we did that passing game where you run, stop and pass, more like American football but with a soccer ball. That was the first and last practice we ever went to.
A couple days later we heard about a soccer league that played on the Asian side of Istanbul so we took the ferry over to the Asian side and we meandered around and found this group of women between the ages of about 30-50 years old and all self-proclaimed feminists who had decided to start a soccer league because in Turkey women are not taught to play soccer. It is not an acceptable activity (for women).
So they decided in their later years they were going to learn to play soccer and start a league. Of course, we didn’t realize none of them would really speak English and we didn’t speak Turkish so we just communicated with soccer. We learned a couple words such as stop, go, slow, right, left, me, you and goal. With that vocabulary we were able to function quite well.
After we played for about an hour or so then we sat around a picnic table for the Turkish tradition of drinking chai tea. They all talked in Turkish afterward and we just would sit there nodding.
One time one of the women that did speak a little English translated after a couple minutes of everyone getting excited that they had decided they were going to do feminine protest in Taksim Square where they would just play soccer the entire time in the square that’s the center of the city.”
Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors — and their visitors — as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.