Failed coup in Turkey

Stranded Singapore children's football team on the move

The F-17 Academy group at Antalya Airport yesterday. They are on their way to Sweden for the Gothia Cup.
The F-17 Academy group at Antalya Airport yesterday. They are on their way to Sweden for the Gothia Cup.PHOTO: F-17 ACADEMY FACEBOOK PAGE

A children's football team from former Singapore captain Fandi Ahmad's F-17 Academy finally got a flight out of Antalya, where they were stranded since Saturday, due to Friday night's attempted coup in Turkey.

The group of 21 children, parents and coaches, who were on their way to the Gothia Cup in Sweden, arrived in Istanbul from Antalya Airport yesterday afternoon.

The team, who were trying to get a direct flight to the Swedish city of Gothenburg, caught a connecting flight to Copenhagen in Denmark at 8pm Singapore time yesterday.

F-17 director Mizra Ismail told The Straits Times that, with the help of Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines, they managed to book a private coach to take them from Copenhagen to Gothenburg, where the team are scheduled to play their first game at 1pm today.

"The boys are all in high spirits and feeling fresh after a good night's sleep at a hotel," said Mr Mizra. "Our main priority is their safety and getting them to Gothenburg in time for the tournament."

 

Mr Mizra noted that there was a direct Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Gothenburg yesterday, but it was full.

 

There are two coaches, six parents and 13 children aged eight to 14 in the group, which left Singapore at 10pm on Friday on Turkish Airlines Flight TK55.

Before their flight was diverted to Antalya, they were headed to Istanbul, where they were to take a transit flight to Copenhagen.

From Copenhagen, they were to take a train to Gothenburg to compete at the youth football tournament, which runs until July 25.

Ms Sia Hwee Mian, a parent in the group, told The Straits Times before the coach booking was made yesterday that the team was likely to stick to the train option if they could not get a direct flight from Istanbul. "We had six missing pieces of luggage yesterday, but managed to find all of them this morning," she said in text messages.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline 'Stranded S'pore children's football team on the move'. Print Edition | Subscribe