7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity
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The most fundamental and binding document regarding the sports policies in Turkey is The National Youth and Sports Policy Document (Gençlik ve Spor Politikası Belgesi). According to this document, the vision of Turkey’s sports policies consists in making Turkey a leading country in sports of all sort by establishing a dynamic and innovative culture which will promote and award perfection and engagement in sports, ensuring that all citizens have regular physical activity habits within the approach of “sports for everyone”, developing the well-being and socio-economic levels of the individual and society by means of sports, discovering talented children and young people and raising and supporting them as elite athletes, providing necessary and sufficient support to amateur branches. The sports policy of Turkey has been designed mainly to serve the purposes of a healthy life and its main objectives are as follows:
- To provide the extension of sports in the all sections of the society,
- To raise healthy generations by promoting the participation of people from all ages in sports activities,
- To take necessary measures in order to prevent violence and unethical behaviors in sports,
- To support amateur sports branches,
- To ensure that institutions and organizations providing services and activities in the field of sports work in coordination and cooperation,
- To determine the inventory and need of sports facilities and to extend facilities to the country-wide scale in a planned way.
In The National Youth and Sports Policy Document (Ulusal Gençlik ve Spor Politikası Belgesi), under the main policy area namely Sports for All, the following policy goals have been defined:
- Developing and extending sports in the education and training institutions.
- Extending lifelong sports habits.
- Having an audience culture.
In The National Youth and Sports Policy Document (Ulusal Gençlik ve Spor Politikası Belgesi), it is stated that as sports is a means of enabling disadvantaged people to take their places in society, to socialize and integrate into the society and to improve their quality of life, the efficiency and number of existing practices should be increased by developing regulations and policies to support the participation of disabled people in sports activities. Accordingly, a policy area namely “Disadvantaged People and Sports” has been defined and the following policy measures have been taken in the context of this policy:
- Accommodating sports facilities for the access of disadvantaged people.
- Conducting studies in order to increase the athletic performance of disadvantaged people.
- Carrying out activities for disadvantaged people in educational institutions.
- Rehabilitation of disadvantaged people through sports.
In The National Youth and Sports Policy Document (Ulusal Gençlik ve Spor Politikası Belgesi), under the policy area namely “Health and Environment”, certain policies and targets to ensure and improve youth health have been defined. The related policy measures are as follows:
- Extending the measures for the protection of young people from harmful habits such as smoking, drug addiction, alcohol etc.
- Increasing measures for the protection of youth health.
10th Development Plan: There is an emphasis on the relation between sports and health in The 10th Development Plan (10. Kalkınma Planı). The main objectives have been set as inculcating sports culture throughout society, and ensuring adoption of sports by wider audiences by increasing the quality and variety of sports services as a prerequisite of healthy and active life.
Considering the impact of sports and physical activity on health, the following policies have been set:
- Programs to promote physical activity of citizens will be developed, and suitable recreation areas will be established.
- Starting from early childhood education, sports education will be improved in terms of both quality and content in all levels of formal education.
- It will be ensured that all sports facilities owned by public organizations will be available for the use of entire population.
- Sports health centers will be extended and improved in terms of service variety and quality. Measures will be taken to fulfill the need for sports physicians.
Within the 11th Development Plan under heading of "Youth", 619th measure states that "the physical, social and cognitive development of young people which takes them out of school-exam-job cycle will be prioritized."
65th Government Program: Youth and sports constitute significant areas of activity in the 65th Government Program (65. Hükümet Programı) dated May 24, 2016. In this context, the youth and sports related views given in the Government Program offer a significant policy framework with regard to healthy life objectives. The 65th Government Program (65. Hükümet Programı) puts forth key findings and objectives about the relation between sports and health. The program states that:
- The government sees sports as an important tool for becoming a healthy society and socialization.
- The main objectives include inculcating sports culture throughout the society, ensuring adoption of sports by wider audiences by increasing the quality and variety of sports services, and developing more employment and higher income opportunities,
- It is a priority to transform the position of society from playing the audience role to taking active part in sports,
- Works will be conducted to integrate the sports facilities in provinces with educational institutions.
During the pandemics, from the beginning of April 2020, Ministry of Youth and Sport of Turkey has launched a campaign titled as "Stay at home, don't stay inactive" in order to promote physical exercise and healthlife styles at home. Within the framework of this campaign Ministry of Youth and Sports and several municipalities have prepared videos demonstrating the possibilities of sports and physical exercise at home.
The Directorate General of Sports under the Ministry of Youth and Sports is the most important public institution in the field of sports. The Law on the Organization and Duties of the Directorate General of Sports (Spor Genel Müdürlüğünün Teşkilat ve Görevleri Hakkında Kanun) sets forth the duties of the Directorate General of Sports for supporting sports and physical activity among young people as follows:
- Management and administration of physical training, games, gymnastics and sports activities providing physical and moral power and skills to the general society and out-of-school youth,
- Programming the sports activities of all educational institutions under the Ministry of National Education at home and abroad, setting the principles of physical training and sports activities,
- Programming, organizing, managing and ensuring the improvement of out-of-school scouting and sports activities; raising sports administrators, trainers, monitors, sports staff and referees, and training and increasing their number; establishing training centers,
- Providing the fields, facilities and materials required for physical training and sports activities, and having them provided; operating these facilities and offering them to the service of society,
- Taking the related measures about the health of athletes, opening health centers for athletes and having them opened, operating these centers and assisting their operation, insuring the athletes and having them insured,
- Issuing documents to increase the technical information and interest in the field of physical training and sports, and carrying out related activities,
- In order to enable disabled people to take part in sports activities and to do it in widespread manner; making the sports facilities appropriate for the use of disabled people as well, developing sports training programs and supportive technologies, providing the required materials, carrying out informative and awareness-raising activities and issuing documents about the issue, raising sportsmen, and cooperating with other relevant institutions to let the disabled people be involved in sports activities.
With a view to enabling people to adopt the habit of regular sports as as to make sports a lifestyle, the Directorate General of Sports carries out the below-listed projects in order to encourage young people to do sports, to make them love sports, develop a sports culture, and extending sports to a wider population.
Lives Coming into Leaves on Ice: The “Lives Coming into Leaves on Ice Project (Buzda Yeşeren Hayatlar Projesi)” was launched in Erzurum on January 24-25, 2015 pursuant to the protocol signed between the Ministry of Family and Social Policies and the Ministry of Youth and Sports regarding the enabling of children, who are receiving service from the institutions under the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, benefit from youth and sports activities. In the context of the project, children living in the institutions under the Ministry of Family and Social Policies in Artvin, Kars, Bingöl, Muş, Erzincan and Ağrı, the neighboring cities of Erzurum, were brought to Erzurum at the weekends, and four branches of winter sports (Ice Skating, Ice Hockey, Curling, and Short Track) were introduced to them. They were also provided training in these branches. While in 2015, a total of 1,752 people including 701 girls, 742 boys and 309 staff (trainers and teachers) from the participating provinces took part in the project activities held throughout 20 weeks; in 2016, a total of 1,679 people including 754 girls, 727 boys and 198 staff (trainers and teachers) took part in these activities held throughout 20 weeks.
The project aimed to:
- Support the personal and social development of children and young people, improve their sensitivity, and let them build a sense of belonging to the society they live in,
- Support through occupational therapy the rehabilitation of children and young people living in the institutions [under the Ministry of Family and Social Policies] as a result of the traumas they experienced, and support their integration to the society,
- Enable the skilled children among them to fulfill their potential,
- Encouraging cooperation around a common goal and tolerance among young people,
- Fight against social exclusion, and reinforcing social cohesion.
According to the curriculum announced by the Ministry of National Education, the following will be taught as compulsory lessons at schools: Games and Physical Activities at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades in primary education; Physical Training and Sports at the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in secondary education; and Physical Training and Sports at the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades in high school.
The aim of Physical Training and Sports lesson is to prepare students for the next level of education by also improving their movement skills; skills, concepts and strategies for an active and healthy life; self-management skills; social skills; and thinking skills, which they will use throughout their lives, in line with the General Objectives and Basic Principles of the Turkish National Education as defined in the Basic Law on National Education (Millî Eğitim Temel Kanunu) numbered 1739.
In line with this aim, the students receiving Physical Training and Sports lesson are expected to achieve the following program outputs:
1. They build movement skills specific to various physical activities and sports.
2. They use movement concepts and principles in various physical activities and sports.
3. They use movement strategies and tactics in various physical activities and sports.
4. They can explain the concepts and principles related to physical activities and sports for healthy life.
5. They regularly take part in physical activities and sports in order to be healthy and improve their health.
6. They have a sense of cultural accumulation and a good understanding of our values.
7. They build self-management skills through physical education and sports.
8. They build social skills through physical education and sports.
9. They build thinking skills through physical education and sports.
In cases when students have special needs, the lessons are applied in a revised manner. Special needs may arise from various reasons such as learning disability, health problems or any kind of disabilities, as well as other reasons like having special qualifications or reaching the learning objectives in advance/earlier than their peers. Once the teachers identify the special needs of students, they enable these students to take part in applied Physical Training and Sports lessons by also getting help from relevant people and institutions if needed. To give an example, for students with health problems, methods to meet the needs of these students and support their health are adopted as a result of a cooperation between parents and family practitioners, and appropriate tools and equipment are provided so that they can participate in the lessons. Meanwhile, the students talented in sports are directed to trainers or sports clubs. Higher objectives may be set and different activities may be proposed for such students, in line with their talents and needs.
The Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Health have jointly developed a program called “Health-Related Physical Fitness Report (Sağlıkla İlgili Fiziksel Uygunluk Karnesi)” with a view to making the students build the habit of physical activity, making them build the physical skills required to take part in physical activities, and raising individual awareness on leading an efficient and healthy lifestyle. The program began to be implemented in the academic year of 2016-2017 (second semester) when the Physical Training and Sports teachers at the (state owned/private) secondary schools and high schools under the Ministry of National Education carried out “Health-Related Physical Fitness Measurements” and entered the related values to the “Health-Related Physical Fitness Module” in the e-school management information system between April 15 - May 15. The Health-Related Physical Fitness Report program will be carried out twice in a year by the student’s Physical Training and Sports Lesson teacher, first at the beginning of the academic year (between September 15 - October 15) and then at the end of the academic year (between April 15 - May 15). The evaluation will be made based on crunch and push-up exercises, and measurement of flexibility through sit-and-reach test, as well as the measurement of body weight and height.
The Health-Related Physical Fitness Report (Sağlıkla İlgili Fiziksel Uygunluk Karnesi) will not affect the students’ physical training and sports marks in their report cards. The relevant information about children will be kept confidential and shared with the parents of each child separately. Like the other marks in the students’ report cards, the “Health-Related Physical Fitness Report” will also be accessible by the parents through e-school database.
In the context of the “Encouraging Physical Activity Project 2015-2018 (Fiziksel aktiviteyi teşvik projesi 2015-2018)” conducted by the Ministry of Health with a view to encouraging biking among the society in order to protect the health of children and young people by making them build the habit of physical activity and to reduce the potential load that may be imposed on the health system in the future, bicycle support will be provided by procuring one million bicycles in four years, in different amounts and at different times depending on the supply conditions of the industry. The target group of this project has been defined as children and schools, universities, and municipalities.
Through the cooperation established between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Education, the lists of schools, which have opened and been implementing the “bicycle” module lesson under the elective course of sports and physical activities at secondary schools, have been obtained. Accordingly, the first bicycle deliveries began on May 19, 2015, and a total of 10,589 bicycles were delivered to the schools, which opened the elective course of sports and physical activities for the 5th, 6th and 7th grade students, and/or the schools, which were implementing the “bicycle module” lesson, through the protocols signed and ceremonies held.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports has been providing support to amateur sports clubs in order to extend sports and physical activities among young people. Since 2002, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has provided a total of 143 million 156 thousand Turkish lira support and materials to 9 thousand 777 amateur sports clubs.