Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Johnnies v Mehmets

While we're still on the subject of Asia Minor, the FFA has just announced annual fixtures between Australia and Turkey, coinciding with Turkish Independence Day on April 23 and ANZAC Day on April 25. The matches will be played in Turkey and Australia on alternating years, and the teams taking part will be agreed by both countries based on their calendar of commitments. This year it's the mens' Under 16 teams that will battle it out in Turkey - in future years it would be nice to see the senior national teams in action.

It's a good initiative and one that should further bolster the relationship of mutual respect between the two countries. The intersection of our nations' histories at Gallipoli in 1915 means that these games will have a symbolic weight far greater than normal international friendlies. In fact, it would be interesting to see whether a joint Australia-New Zealand side could be a possibility for these matches in future.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well."

- Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), 1934

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