ELF: Istanbul Rams beginning to take shape

One of the four new additions to the European League of Football, the Istanbul Rams, are beginning to take shape after their combine last weekend.

But unlike the Parma Panthers star receiver Simone Alinovi in Italy or Vienna Vikings linebacker Thomas Schnurrer in Austria, who are both high profile names in their own countries, the players in Turkey remain relatively unknown.

The Koç Rams and Yeditepe Eagles have led the Turkish league for the past few years, operating through the universities located in regions. The teams sported American and EU imports with Turkish students and domestic players plugging the holes.

Although the leagues proved consistently competitive with teams rising and falling, the sport has lacked a professional edge that other countries in Europe have managed to achieve. But there are those in Turkey who are now ready for the next step, joining the rest of Europe as some of the best teams outside of North America.

One of those joining the fray is DB Yiğitcan Ertür. The young defensive back attended the Rams’ combine last week with athletes from all over the country.

We got excited about ELF and celebrated with each other. The combine was cool, you know every player that wants to play in the EFL was there. We met with a lot of good athletes, they’re actually the best athletes in the whole of Turkey I guess. There was a lot of competition and the athletes loved that.

My close friends and I are excited, we know that Turkish athletes have a lot of potential and EFL will be a podium to show our skills.

Ertür began his career in 2015 with the İstanbul Üniversity UniLig and was a day one starter with the then Koç Rams. Despite Koç acting as the foundation for the new ELF team, the combine has brought players from all over the country. 

One of those is fellow defensive back and combine attendee Atilla Isik who began playing in 2016 with the Yeditepe Eagles.

Işık is equally as excited to get his first taste of European football:

The Rams’ combine was great, it looked exactly like an NFL combine, it was all profesional. As a member of the Rams we are all pretty excited to play at ELF. It will be the highest level of football that Turkish teams have been to so the Turkish players will have to change to play a higher level of football.

Along with some key signings for the Rams, it will be the likes of Ertür and Işık who put Turkish players on the map in the ELF 2022 season. Turkish football is finally coming under the fold of European football, let’s hope the rest of the continent follow suit.


Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.