Interviews After the Final Conferance
Turkish Basketball Federation’s two year long Fans Against Violence Project ended with the final conferance on November, 22. Fans Against Violence Project aimed to combine different groups of fans under the basketball roof, increase empathy and reduce violence in the halls.
Turkish Basketball Federation Media Department made interviews with Anadolu Efes fan Tanju Can and Lithuanian National Team fan Sekla Balaisis about the project and their history with the teams they cheer for.
Tanju Can, who has been supporting Anadolu Efes for more then twenty years, hopes for the permanence of the positive energy that the project generated.
Tanju Can: “We are Hoping for a Peaceful Platform”
-What does Fans Against Violence Project Means for you?
Tanju Can: We all are hoping for a peaceful platform. The project means peace to us. We went to some away games lately, and some of the fans that are supporting other teams also came with us to our games. We hope we will keep on making these king of organizations from now on…
-How were the previous meeting of the project?
Tanju Can: They all were friendly and productive. We listened the stories of the fans living in different countries and we tried to tell them about ourselves. Our country is a little bit problematic about the topic so we tried to express ourselves to our foreigner friends.
-Did you think that the basketball culture is different in Turkey and around Europe?
Tanju Can: Also in Turkey, the basketball culture is not the same for all the fans. Basically, there are two kinds of people who comes to basketball games. First group is the ones that are originally soccer fans of some of the club teams. Second group is the ones that are only supporting basketball teams. The fans that we ran into during the Fans Against Violence Project all over Europe, they were all people who put basketball in the first place. So as Efes fans who only support one basketball team, we found them close to our mentality.
Sekla Balaisis: “The Project is Meaningful”
One of the most famous fans all around Europe, Lithuanian Sekla Balaisis didn’t mis sone single game of the Lithuanian National Team for 13 years. Balaisis claims that Fans Against Violence Project is very meaningful and he is happy about being a part of it.
-When did you start being a ‘Super Fan’ of Lithuania National Team?
Sekla Balaisis: I think this ‘Super Fan’ phrase is an exaggeration of the press. I am just a fan of my country’s team since 2003. I did not miss any tournament for 13 years.
-At which stage of the project did you join the Fans Against Violence meetings?
Sekla Balaisis: I joined the meetings at Sofia, the stage before the final part. Before, the time was not right for me. I wish i could have been with all the participants from the beginning. I loved the organisation at Sofia. All the fans are trying their best to solve the problems about the problems at the tribunes. This project is very, very meaningful.
-How did your commitement to the Lithuanian National Team come into being at first place?
Sekla Balaisis: Actually, this question’s answer has a connection with Turkey. If you remember EuroBasket 2001 which had been organised in Turkey, Lithuania couldn’t achieve success. We lost against Latvia in demi finals by like 18 points and that was a real tragedy for us. When our team got back to Lithuania, some fans waited at the airport and showed their disrespect to the National Team. I saw this on television and i felt that i could do something to prevent these kind of undesirable acts. If you are supporting your country’s team, you have to support it no matter what the results are. From that time, for 13 years now, i am always with my National Team.
Interview: Şansın Tokyay
Photograph: Fehmi Özgüler