Turkey's National Women's Volleyball Team made history by defeating Serbia 3-2 to become European Champions for the first time ever, bringing great joy throughout Turkey only a short while ago.
During the final match, people across Turkey watched the game live on giant screens set up in almost every city and many town centers, from Edirne to Kars. In fact, in the rating reports the following day, TRT's broadcasting network was far ahead in all categories.
Sultans of the Net (Filenin Sultanları) branded themselves in 2003
2003, Turkey hosted the European Women's Volleyball Championship in Antalya and Ankara. Turkey, which was in Group A of the championship with 12 teams competing in two groups, became the focus of the entire country when it defeated countries like Romania, Serbia, Russia, and Slovakia 3-0 in succession.
The year 2023 marked a milestone for women's volleyball in Turkey. Setting out with the goal of "championship" in the 100th year of the Republic of Turkey, the Sultans of the Net first defeated China 3-1 in the final of the FIVB Nations League held by the International Volleyball Federation in July, earning the title of the world's best team for the first time in their history. With this victory, the national team rose to the top of the world ranking for the first time. Then, in late August, the team began the European Championship matches in Germany and Belgium, winning without losing a single match. In the semifinals, they defeated the reigning European champion, Italy, and in the final, they beat Serbia, the 2019 European and 2022 World Champion, securing the top spot in Europe, as well.
How did Turkey achieve this success in women's volleyball?
The success in women's volleyball can be attributed primarily to the investments in youth development that began in the 1980s and 1990s, along with the competitive environment that emerged in the 2000s, both at the club and national team levels. The biggest credit for this success undoubtedly goes to the clubs that produced athletes, especially Eczacıbaşı and Vakıfbank. Additionally, the Turkish Volleyball Federation, which opened up space for clubs with a sound investment program, supported them and emphasized sponsorship agreements with suitable investment opportunities, is also considered one of the architects of success. It's important not to forget that all the presidents of the Volleyball Federation who contributed to this success, from the first president to the current one, played a role in this success through their efforts.
Moreover, the support given to non-football sports, especially in the last 20 years, including investments in sports infrastructure, can also be considered a key factor in this success. Finally, planned and conscious investment, strong club teams and youth academies, a national team structure based on merit, sponsorships, and sustainable success have made women's volleyball Turkey's most successful sport, setting an example for all other sports.