We had an interview with the Chairman, as well as the trainer for riders and equestrians, of the Asya Equestrian Sports Club and more importantly, the third generation of the family who continued to live this dream, Asya Alper about these issues and she answered our questions sincerely.
1- Could you tell us about the story of Equestrian Sports Club?
Actually, I am the 3rd generation of a family that is engaged in horseback riding. In other words, there is an equestrianism and horse breeding history that comes from my grandfather that he passed into my father and mother. The idea of being a farm owner was actually my father's childhood dream. In 2006, the first step was taken to pass on to a bigger place with our horses that they were no longer fitting in our garden. In 2009, we became the Asya Equestrian Sports Club with acceptance of members and acceptance of horses from outside. So the steps we had taken because of our personal pleasures brought us here.
Could you tell us about your affection, connection with horses as well as your history and also your experiences with horse riding?
Like I said, my love towards horses and horseback riding are coming from my childhood. I have always been with horses for as long as I’ve known myself. Starting from primary school, I took as many lessons as possible from various instructors; my father was my first and most challenging instructor of course. After that, we tried to make as much foreign connections as possible, and as far as I could go, which was always my personal effort, I tried to take lessons abroad. I have been doing only horseback riding until 2010, but for the last 7 years I am giving trainings for riding as well. I have been taken place periodically in various private clubs in Turkey until 2014. Even tough my experiences in Turkey had a great impact on me, because of the political obstacles on licensing, which I think this is the biggest challenge faced by Turkish Cypriot athletes in all disciplines, I started horse riding at a private club in the South Cyprus. Since 2014 I have owned the Republic of Cyprus Equestrian License. We had to close our club for about 1.5 years with the reason of some troubles lived at the end of 2014. During this period, foreign and southern connections were cut off. When we reopened the club in January 2016, I was awarded a TRNC Riding License after my decision to participate in the obstacle jumping competitions being organized by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Equestrian Federation. As a club since May 2016, we are actively involved in federation races. In 2017 as a country we have joined the breeding and obstacles jumping competitions in Turkey. As a result of the success obtained here, now we are trying to get Turkey Equestrian Federation License.
How is the interest towards to this sport in Cyprus? Could you give us information about the formation of the association and the point that you have reached?
This sport became an incredible industry in the world and they perform within the possibilities that challenge the imagination. Us as horse lovers, we are trying to develop this sport in this tiny island and in fact there are no possibilities. But unfortunately, in our country there is a lot of ignorance, prejudice and misconduct against this sport. This being the case, the interest in this sport is limited. Equestrian sports are not suitable for everyone and all over the world this is kind of a sport that are interested in by a smaller segment than other sports. When the population of Cyprus is considered, the right orientation of the people who are interested in these sports, the support of the family and the facilities offered are very important.
Despite all, the Equestrian Federation and the clubs are striving to increase the awareness of this sport within the general public. Looking at the last 1 year, there is a clear improvement in the quality of the competitor / rider, horse and competition, although I personally have not observed much change in interest.
The club, which is a privately owned company, became an association before opening again after the closing period of 2014. We are currently serving as a sports club registered officially in the federation. I think we have seen the difference in the corporate sense and we are on the right track with the change of construction. That is to say, we have seen many institutional benefits of association status in cooperation with Dumlupınar Turkish Sports Club, which is our competition sponsor since June 2016, also in cooperation protocols we have signed with Geçitkale Municipality and other private companies, and sponsorships that we got in competitions that we have hosted. Moreover, this institutional structure was very useful when we set up the membership system we aimed at.
4- You are giving riding lessons in the club, organizing various competitions and events. Could you tell me a little bit about this and other services?
There are activities and events that we are carrying out in the club continuously and periodically. Horse riding lessons and horse care (pension) are our continuous activities. In addition to these, we have specific goals for sponsoring, and in this sense, we are participating to the races in each month and their preparation processes constitute our regular activities. We are organising the "Asya Equestrian Sports Country Cup" once every year and which we have realized the second time this year, and we are hosting the competitions that took place during the dates determined by the TRNC Equestrian Federation, these are also regularly organized every year. We also offer our seasonal mountain bike tours with Paralik Pedal Power and Üney Bicycle, we offer our services as a break / start point to the diversified bike groups. Again periodically we offer our summer school activity to the kindergarten and the schools, and additionally we offer our services for birthday and other group events.
5- Do you have international connections? How is the interaction? What is your vision?
Any cooperation in the institutional sense with the cause of the present political situation cannot go beyond cooperation on paper. On the persona level, the financial dimension of all kinds of activities you perform beyond Turkey and Cyprus is quite high therefore there is no continuity. In the simplest way, I can say that if you are going to race in the South; since there is no crossing allowed for living animals to the south Cyprus, you either have to buy a horse or hire a horse in the south. The same situation applies to racing in Turkey because of the heavy horse transport procedures and quarantine conditions. Under all these circumstances, we can say that the interaction is very limited.
Each club is different in style and is the reason why there are 10 equestrian clubs even in this tiny island. As the Asya Equestrian Sports Club, we set out with the goal of "presenting a real club environment" and the concept of "country". In this sense, we strive to provide a quality and boutique club environment, with a strong membership network and facilities especially to our members and guests. In this respect we also work with a constant development goal, train sportsmen and aim to make a difference in the activities and events we carry out.
We know you are actively involved in the races, and at the same time you are in the club. How do you manage to carry these along with your work in the office?
Yes I am actively racing, I have 11 federation races plus special races, I teach horse riding in the club, organize and do the workouts, and I also run the club chairman. In other words, I also take part in all administrative affairs related to the club and I am commissioned at the decision point. I have been working in an office for about 4 years as an interpreter & consultant since my main occupation is this. I would have liked to say that I'm very easy to carry on, but unfortunately it's a hard one. It would be impossible to run them all at the same time without the flexibility of my business hours, my family and my team that we working together for the races. I think that 'there is a way if there is a will'. I do not give up despite the occasional exhaustion thanks to the pleasure and satisfaction that I have received from the races and my horses, even though I continue these works by passing the social life in 5-6 days of the week in a constant hustle and bustle. I think all this is about how much you want something. In the end, it is not possible to achieve success without hard work.
When it comes to animal affection, horses are one of the foremost with their closeness to people, their intelligence and beauty. In addition to riding, building such bonds with animals is especially important in child development, and even in the therapy of children with special needs. What are your views on this subject?
Equestrian sports are the only ones that two creatures do together. Except for the positive psychological effects of horses on humans (self-confidence, foresight, leadership, problem solving, responsibility, etc.), there are many physical impacts on us. Balance, muscle, coordination, reflex, motor nervous system, movement range in the joints and digestive system is few of many more effects. Apart from all this, the healing effect of the horse's body temperature on the human body has been scientifically proven, and even after World War II, horses have been used on soldiers as the primary treatment method. When we consider these and many more, it is not difficult to predict how all these would positively affect child development. In the therapy and treatment of children with special needs, it is applied with various methods and needs, sometimes accompanied by a physiotherapist and occasionally with basic riding education. The important thing here is the right approach and practice. It is important to underline that conscious approaching.
Lastly, do you have anything else to add?
As I said at the beginning, there are some horse lovers who are working hard to develop this sport under very tough conditions when compared with the world and the facilities outside of this tiny island. I am having difficulties to convince even my own environment to come to the races, but at the end of the day once the come, they continue to come to other races. Equestrianism is a very pleasant sport even if you have never been before. I think we can invite everyone to a obstacle jumping race and we can invite all families to have at least one horse experience in all their lives.
If you want to visit the Asya Altı Spor Kulübü, contact information is as follows::
Akova, İskele-Lefkoşa Anayolu üzeri, Akova – Mağusa.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ocak 2018, 13:15