In the words of Eda Tuğsuz: “The door to success and happiness opens with the wings of freedom that our fathers give us.”
Fenerbahçe Sports Club javelin-thrower Eda Tuğsuz, 26, has represented Türkiye at many international competitions. She was ranked fourth in the world at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and also holds Türkiye’s women’s javelin record, with a throw of 67.21 metres. She attributes her success to the unlimited support and attention her father has given her since her childhood, without any gender discrimination.
Ever since my childhood, I have been physically stronger and had higher energy compared to my peers. Thanks to my teachers, who noticed this energy at school, and to my uncle Ecevit and his friend who is a national javelin athlete, Fatih Avan, I was referred to the javelin branch and selected for the national team at the age of 15. Today, I continue my professional career as a javelin-throwing athlete.
My father is a lorry driver and my mother is a housewife. Both my mother and father supported my career in sports from the very beginning. I can’t thank them enough. In a world where the field of sports is dominated by men, parental support for female athletes is a very important factor for an athlete to rise more confidently. My mother and father managed to eke out a living working under very difficult conditions, and they put their efforts into raising me. They have provided incredible support, especially when I started to pursue a life in sports.
The role that my beloved father has played in my international success is huge. He is my rock. He always has my back and supports me. There hasn’t been a single moment that I’ve felt my father doubt me and my goals, which has made my stance in life strong. Having a strong supporter like my father is a unique opportunity in life, not only for someone becoming a professional athlete, but for all girls in the world who want to go above and beyond limits.
In my childhood, by dedicating equal time to my brother and I, my father also laid the foundations for an equal future. In our family, there was never such a thing as ‘fathers play with their sons; mothers spend time with their daughters’. When I look at the heights I’ve reached in sports, I see how important the physical activities that my father did with me were and the time we spent all together with my brother.
Over time, I became a champion. However, to know that I am a champion regardless of fulfilling any criteria in the eyes of my father is the most precious thing in the world. Above all else, knowing that my father will support me in all circumstances fuels my self-confidence.
It is particularly girls who need their fathers as role models. While your mother can be the best example of how a daughter can be strong and stand on her own feet, the support of a father feels like it opens all doors in life. When fathers encourage their daughters to play sports at an early age, just like their sons, the probability of girls doing this sport permanently increases significantly. Research supports this as well.
Fathers should create spaces for their daughters to try different areas and realize their potential, regardless of gender differences. They should also make their daughters feel that they never lack anything, either physiologically or psychologically, and that they can achieve anything they want in life – just like my father made me feel.
My father is my greatest love, so Father’s Day is more than just a day for me. I set my sights on the top of the world, to make my father proud. I believed that with his hand on my back and his support, I could achieve anything. I congratulate all fathers who always support their children, regardless of whether they are girls or boys, and I want to say: the door to success and happiness opens with the wings of freedom our fathers give us.”
Eda Tuğsuz, participated in the workshops “Combating discrimination and violence against women and girls in sports,” carried out in collaboration with Fenerbahçe Sports Club and the HeForShe Türkiye Movement. Fenerbahçe Sports Club has been working to advance gender equality in and through sports by joining forces with UN Women’s HeForShe Movement with the support of Tüpraş since 2018.