Sports as stepping-stone: Cudi Cup

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Turkey is a vast country with different cultural, political and natural aspects. Using all of its components, it works to carve out a better future. In the last two decades, the country began the process of mass development. Great advances have been actualized in the fields of economy, education, sports, technology and art. This advancement has provided plenty of new opportunities, advantages and sometimes unexpected developments. It is easy to determine economic or technological advancements when numbers can be easily calculated to demonstrate the huge progress. However, this advancement also resulted in another undeniable success, cooperation for social peace and the spread of sports.

In Şırnak, a southeastern once underdeveloped Turkish province, a national tennis tournament has been taking place for a couple of years. This alone was revolutionary for Turkey, especially for Şırnak residents. For decades until the early 2000s, Şırnak was left out of development plans and projects. Its people suffered due to the lack of investments, both mentally and physically. The chaotic climate and constant external threats crippled the province and weakened its local economy as people fled the city. Its cultural heritage and social structure faced the threat of extinction. A province that was ignored for years was on the edge of evanescence. Then things changed.

Turkey began to concentrate on improving underdeveloped areas. The people of the eastern provinces, such as Şırnak, were specially chosen as targets of renewal programs to battle economic underdevelopment and social isolation. These were the two biggest factors that were hindering the development of the area. After the terror threat was cleared, empty spaces requiring social and economic investment were born. To meet these needs, parallel to its successful constructions, Turkey implemented dozens of development projects to improve the capacity of the area and gratify its people. The Cudi Tennis Tournament was one of these projects. It started as a local event, attracting people from nearby provinces. The main aim was to offer people, especially the youth, new opportunities for their personal development. Fortunately, thanks to the global attraction power of sports, Cudi Tennis Tournament evolved into the international Cudi Cup that welcomes dozens of people from different countries for a friendly competition, using the event as a vehicle for harmony.

The 2022 Cudi Cup will be hosted at the foothills of Cudi Mountain. The physical and social geography of the area was once a disadvantage for the city, which lost its interconnectivity due to its remoteness. With the implementation of successful projects in the last two years, young athletes now compete in a friendly environment. They enjoy their youth, feel the comradery that comes with sports and advance their professional sporting careers. That, of course, requires more than good intentions. Turkey is well aware of that and thus channelized its resources and human capital for the region, long before the event was decided. Believing in equality in opportunity, we enlarged our sports infrastructure in eastern regions to make sure every young person and sports enthusiast can easily access sports just as in any other part of our country.

Nothing can compensate for the missed opportunities and loss of time in Şırnak. Yet, we can prevent new losses, we can rewrite the fate of the region. It is, without a question, a revolution. We managed to replace a humanitarian crisis with international success. It is a tale of triumph, not just for Turkey but for all the sports world. The Cudi Cup will be clear proof of the invigorating power of sports. The transcendent spirit of sports will be demonstrated at this tournament, showing everyone that when conditions are met, sports can embrace everyone, any time, anywhere. This year, the city and the tournament will once again embrace foreign sports enthusiasts, press members and officials.

Many actors played crucial roles in the healing process of the region that was once the victim of isolation. This tournament is just a pillar among many others. Within the scope of the tournament, a youth festival accompanied by musical concerts will also take place. In the future, similar events will fill empty areas in the province and change the perception of the city, then the whole region. We are hopeful that the transformation Şırnak province is going through will serve as a leading example for not only nearby cities that suffered more or less the same fate for the same reasons for decades but any city in any part of the world. As one of the most effective tools for public diplomacy, sports diplomacy will once again prove its worth and take part in the empowerment process of the province. We hope that this event will also inspire our counterparts all around the world to use peaceful and constructive means such as sports diplomacy to solve problems, empower specific districts within their homelands and expand their connections.

It inspires us more than anyone as we witness firsthand the transformation process led by sports. In the following years, we are determined to spread similar events to nearby provinces for different branches of sports as well. As the Ministry of Youth and Sports, we already work for the advancement of sports and are happy to see how much more room and potential sports hold for the improvement of society and the establishment of peace. We believe the Cudi Cup will start a new trend where both locals and internationals will be inspired by the charm and potential of sports. To capture the spirit and understand the additional value of the event, anyone can follow the competition physically or online on May 17, 2022.

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