• Anıl Bahşi | Communications Specialist

For the Adıyaman Municipality Deaf Football Team, life was heading upward before the earthquakes. The team had been performing well in their Turkish Deaf Super League and progressing towards championship glory. 

After winning all their matches in the group stage in Gaziantep, they earned the right to participate in the Türkiye Finals in Mersin, managing to reach the semifinal round. On their way back from their last match, the devastating earthquakes struck. 

“We lost one person from our team. At the same time, our club building collapsed. As a club, we had to take a break,” says Mehmet. 

Over a year later, they are using two containers provided by the municipality as their club building. Yet, more than ever, they are now excited to return to the field. 

One year after the earthquakes, the team takes to the field for the first time in a friendship match. Photo: IOM/Anıl Bahşi

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranged a friendship match for them to face off against the Adıyaman University Faculty of Medicine Football Team. This forms part of IOM’s mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) efforts, helping affected communities heal and recover.  

“We organized this match to remind them of their pre-earthquake achievements, to enable them to draw strength from each other as a team, and to boost their morale by reminding them of the successes that were starting to be forgotten in Adıyaman," explains Duygu Yılmaz, IOM staff. 

Mehmet expresses his joy at being back on the pitch, after a very challenging period for his community. “We know that sports leaves a very positive psychological impact. We will try to overcome this period by playing sports.” 

“The team reuniting has greatly contributed to the players' motivation,” adds Mehmet Yıldırım, the team’s Technical Director. 

Ali (left) and Ömer (right) were excited about the friendship match while looking toward their futures. Photo: IOM/Anıl Bahşi

Ali, a player from the university team, also quit playing football after the earthquakes. A year since, he is happy to return to the field like his teammates.  

“This match had a great moral impact on us. It was not just physical training, but it also boosted our morale after the earthquake shattered it,” he remarks. 

“It gave us great positive energy to continue our sports journey. We aspire to leave a beautiful mark in both the medical and sports fields.” 

His teammate Ömer echoes the same sentiments: “This match was like a lifeline for us. It reminded us of our life before the earthquakes; we played a football match happily as before.” 

The players are training hard, hoping to quality for the European Deaf Championship one day. Photo: IOM/Anıl Bahşi

With the friendship match a success, the players now have their sights on the upcoming European Deaf Championship. 

“In June 2024, there will be the European Championship in Spain. We are very interested in participating and want to go there one day,” expresses Mehmet. 

“We are training in the evenings. We are preparing for the next games, as we really want to play in Europe,” adds Mustafa. 

For now, more than anything, they are just glad return to their old days of playing the sport they love. 


This initiative was made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). 

Written by Anıl Bahşi, IOM Türkiye Communications Specialist