CEFL Teams: Istanbul Koç Rams of Turkey


Throughout the years we transformed our team from a college team to a professional team by recognizing mistakes and having the courage to face those.

Istanbul Koç Rams entered the international stage as a major surprise - given the fact that they managed to beat Carlstad Crusaders (at the time IFAF Europe Champions League champs) and move to the Final Four. Later on, Istanbul joined CEFL, and are the only organization in the Central European Football League whose base is an actual University.

Rams' Emir Can Kefeli helped us on this one. Enjoy!


Koç Rams was established in 2004, by the Koç University students. Recruiting was among the university students and also from some close friends of the students. It was the first time in Koç University history to have an American Football Team within the university, and it was not easy to set things right in the beginning.

However, with the outstanding effort and financial support of the students, the team had a solid base that will last for the future.

In the beginning, we did not have any external support, neither from sponsors nor from school, until success started to come. In 2006, after the continuous dedication of the players and through the support of our university, one of the Koç Holding companies, Aygaz AŞ, decided to support our program to buy new equipment and also to help with our away game expenses. Players were paying for these expenses by themselves before this sponsorship.

Photo: Ogeday Tarakçı

Gearing Up

Acquiring our first equipment was both a struggle and excitement. For the first several months of training, we played on the mud and snow with no equipment or with homemade equipment. As a result, our players were under a heavy risk of injury but their love for the game and the brotherlike bond between the players kept us going. Our first equipment was from the U.S. and arrived only after three months we established the team. The equipment we brought from the U.S. was second hand and very outdated. So much that when we watched the movie Remember the Titans, we realized they used the same equipment we were using. That’s how old the equipment was, however that was what we were able to afford. Each player paid for the equipment and made financial contribution. So, it was a big commitment for everyone, a commitment of time, sweat and tears among other things.

Helmets that came in were in a variety of colors and models. The league did not require the helmets to be in the same color back than however our vision was different. Therefore, we wanted to paint our helmets in our color, maroon, however it was a big struggle to find anyone to paint helmets. As a result we took our helmets to a car garage owned by one of our players and painted them in maroon with car paint. All designs, strips and logos on helmets were stickers, which were prone to wear and tear due to contact and make no mistake we loved and still love playing contact football.

It was the same for our jerseys and finding someone that can provide us with jerseys was not possible. Therefore, we designed our jersey and had to visit several (a lot of !!!) sports equipment providers to get the jersey manufactured.

At first, none of our players had any experience playing football and the fields we played were far from today’s football fields. We are aware that we use the word “mud” a lot, but as you can see below, we were covered in mud all the time. We used to play in a standard football (soccer) field with no lines for American football. We had no goal posts neither and every game required a lot of work preparing the field to make it look like it was an American football field. There was even a time where we had to use a synthetic turf field 15 kilometers away from the school to practice and even play some of the games. At least there was no mud, but it used to cost a lot for a team that was recently established.

Looking back and comparing those with today, we are very happy and proud of the transformation and improvement. To this day, our players and alumni keep their old equipment as those were the equipment that got us started on the track which led us to several undefeated championships and international success.

Photo: Ogeday Tarakçı


Between the years 2004 and 2006, we participated in university league organization as there were no federation to organize a national league. There were two leagues consisting of Istanbul and Ankara university teams, and we were competing in Ankara League as our Head Coach, Koray Şahmalı, was a graduate student from a university in Ankara.

In our first season, we only had 4 games, and our first ever game was against the team that was undefeated in Turkey for 10 years. The score of this game was 0 to 78, but we were so excited and thrilled to be able to have a full contact game after a short period of practices with our equipment. We managed to score our first touchdowns in our second game, which was against another Ankara team.

In our first season in 2004, we had 3 losses and got our first win in our last game. Practicing 3 times a week under heavy weather conditions, we did not have that much trouble to keep the players together with the level of commitment. Bond and brotherhood among the players continued to strengthen with time and the ambience of the team. Our first camp at the university also connected our players helped to include more students from the school.

The People

Each team has its own character starting from locker room. A good team bond reflects on the field and shapes what you do out there during games. Our character is shaped by a very strong friendship and brotherhood combined with quality leadership. When we started playing, we were playing on the mud and snow all the time and this led us to playing more of a running game instead of a passing game. With this, we learned to move together, we ran, hit and blocked together as a single organism which requires a very strong bond, both in and out of the field. Also, we believe that this bond is the essence of being a team that used to comprise of students.

Our classic ritual, which we continue to this day was team lunch after practice on Sundays. Our training ground is located in Koc University’s campus, which is while very beautiful, is located in a distant calm area of Istanbul. So, there were not enough options for having lunch. Therefore we, with 40-50 players, drove about 10 kilometers every Sunday as a convoy with around 10 cars to have team lunch in the city. That was the beginning.

After several years, we started to have team camps outside the city, which helped a lot for strengthening the bond among players. We still continue this practice which we believe helps a lot.

As a result, it was both a team and individual effort and commitment. Every player had a huge amount of respect for one another and this respect turned into a beautiful brotherhood, which still reflects on our alumni and players.

Photo: Ogeday Tarakçı


Throughout the years, we had several obstacles in our programs that we had to overcome in time. Every obstacle connected our players more and more. We had several plans in our minds to create an environment that will help the community at some point; however, we did not have the necessary help and manpower to make it happen. With the new vision of our football program in 2012, we have decided to reorganize our football program to be able to compete in Turkish and European Leagues. First step of our reorganization was to bring in high caliber American import players and also an experienced American head coach. This step has changed the program entirely and helped us to build U19 men’s team and women’s flag team.

We planned to increase the awareness of American Football in our community with this move, that would also help us to gather more attention and players from our society. Our goal was to spread the joy and discipline of American Football among the young ages within our community. After establishing a solid youth program, we are planning to form flag teams in high schools and even for younger ages.

Thanks to our efforts together with the federation and other teams, our final games in 2017 and 2018 were aired on live television in the largest state owned sports channel TRT Spor and on BeinSports, which is the channel where Turkish Super League (soccer) games are aired.

Fans & Support

Support from the Koç University and sponsors have increased a lot through the years. There are more audience and awareness for American Football now, as we are playing to a minimum of thousand people in our games. Istanbul is a populated metropolitan city that has no resources to support amateur sport branches.

Therefore, all the teams in Istanbul should generate money and support themselves, which is getting harder and harder every day.

To be able to become a recognizable brand, we had to make a long-term marketing and sportive plan and had to stick with them. It is now easier to acquire better players from the city after dominating the Turkish League for 3 consecutive years. Another attention point was to be able to compete in highest level in European Leagues, which was among our first goals.

Looking Back

Running an organization requires commitment and a strong bond between one another. Professionalism and structure, which we have been working on for several years now, are also important things to have to transform an non-professional college team found by students to a professional team that plays for championship every year without question. With every year we have learned new things both on coaching and management.

We believe the most important qualities a team must have are good players, good management and good coaching. Our players handle the “good players” part very well, so we do not have to worry about that. We have been very lucky with our coaches as well over the years which we owe a big gratitude towards. Our job as management is bringing in good coaches, good players setting a happy and rewarding environment and make sure that this improves every year.

We understand that the biggest strength a team management can have is to recognize mistakes, so that we can take action to correct those mistakes. For this purpose, we organize an annual workshop every year, where our management and alumni attend to discuss the previous season, recognize weaknesses and strengths and have 3 year plans both in terms of finances and organization.

Throughout the years we transformed our team from a college team to a professional team by recognizing mistakes and having the courage to face those. Today we are very proud where the team stands now but our work is only partly over. Our aim is to stay as the champions in Turkey, have more wins in Europe, send more players to Turkish National Team and continue to be an example for teams in Turkey both in terms of success and organization.


Disclaimer: This article is done as a partnership between Central European Football League [CEFL] and Touchdown Europe [TDEU], with the respected organizations participating in the CEFL 2019.

Media outlets can and are encouraged to re-post this article on their websites/blogs, as long as the disclaimer above is used. Thank you for respecting author rights.


{"widgetType": "below grid","widgetLabel": "Pass-Sporting","widgetColor": "#da1010","widgetCount": 5}
{"widgetType": "carousel posts","widgetLabel": "SafeBet","widgetCount": 3}

30+,3,6 Point Athletics,1,Aaron Hernandez,1,Aberdeen Roughnecks,1,AFBO,1,AFDL,4,AFVD,1,AFWB,1,Aix en Provence Argonautes,2,Aki Jones,2,Allan Price,1,Allgau Comets,6,Alphen Eagles,1,American Grit,1,Amsterdam Admirals,1,Andrija Geric Blog,1,Angel Duchesses,3,Angels Torun,5,Antonio Roane,1,Aquile Ferrara,2,Arlanda Jets Women,1,Arnhem Falcons,7,AUC Titans,1,Austria,3,Avala,2,BAFA,2,BAFL,1,Behind the scenes,2,Belfast Trojans,6,Belgrade Blue Dragons,4,Belgrade Vukovi,9,Ben's Diary,1,Berlin Adler,13,Bialystok Lowlanders,2,Big6,2,Birmingham Lions,1,Blog,94,Blue Mountain State,1,BOA,3,Body and Mind,24,Body Sculpting Club,1,BookerASE,1,Bosnia,1,BoxVideos,15,Brazil,2,Brian Casey,5,Budapest Cowbells,2,Bulgaria,1,CAAF,1,Calanda Broncos,3,Camp Trieste,1,Carlstad Crusaders,1,Catania Elephants,2,CEFL,63,CEFL Bowl,2,CEFL Cup,7,CFL,1,Champions League,3,Christopher Griggs,1,Cineplexx Blue Devils,1,Clayton Banner,1,Club'ing EU Style,2,Coaches Corner,6,College Bowl,1,College Football,2,Columbus Givens,1,Comets Life,2,Coventry Jets,1,czechfootball,1,Czechia,1,D'Elancourt Templiers,2,Damnyans Corner,6,Daniel Kelly,8,Daniel Levy,3,Daniels Diary,2,Danube Dragons,1,Demetrius Sumler,1,Denmark,1,Deric's Diary,1,Diary,23,DJ Hernandez,2,Domestic Signings 2014,3,Domzale Tigers,3,Draft,3,Drills and Workouts,6,Dublin Rebels,2,Dundee Hurricanes,2,EAC,2,EAFL,1,East City Giants,2,Edinburgh Wolves,1,EFA,1,EFAF,2,EFLI,2,Egypt,1,Eidsvoll 1814s,1,Einhejrar,1,ELAF,2,ELF,1,Elite,33,Elite Top 10 Domestic 2013,5,Embo's Diary,3,Embo's iPod,1,Endzone TV,1,Enschede Broncos,4,Eurobowl,6,Europe's Elite,2,Evan Harrington,1,Ewa Susmarska,2,Exploring The Off Season,17,Featured,9,FFEC,1,FIDAF,11,Final Four,2,Finland,5,Football vs Football,1,France,2,Gabriel Chambers,2,Gdynia Seahawks,6,German Bowl,1,Germany,8,GFL,11,GFL2,2,Giessen Golden Dragons,1,Golden Bears,1,Graz Giants,1,Greg's Diary,4,Gridiron TV,6,Halifax Harbour Hawks,1,Hall of Fame,74,Hamburg Blue Devils,1,Hassleholm Hurricanes,1,Helsinki 69ers,2,Helsinki Wolverines,2,Helsinski Roosters,2,IAFL,1,IceBucketChallenge,2,Iceland,1,ifaf,10,IFAF Europe,6,In The Trenches,8,India,2,Indjija Indians,2,Instructional,7,International Prospects,3,Interviews,56,Ireland,18,Israel,1,Istanbul Koc Rams,5,Italy,6,itc,1,Ivan Nedeljkovic,1,Jabari Harris,1,Jagodina Black Hornets,3,JCL Graz Giants,4,Jeel Bowl,1,Jeff Scuran,1,Jimmie Russel,1,Johan Stal,1,John Trana,3,Jonesing,1,Joshua Henry,1,Juaquin Iglesias,1,Junior Tigers,1,Kangourous de Pessac,1,Kickers Diary,3,Kiel Baltic Hurricanes,1,Kikinda Mammoths,2,Kragujevac Wild Boars,17,Kraljevo Royal Crowns,5,Kristina Fruza,1,Kuwait,1,Kyle Callahan,1,Ladislav Jensik,1,Lazio Marines,2,Les Gones De Lyon,1,Leszno Hunters,1,LFA,1,Limerick Vikings,2,Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli,1,Ljubljana Silverhawks,7,London Blitz,1,Lubeck Cougars,2,Luka Vujnovic,1,Malaga Corsairs,1,Manchester Titans,1,Matic Pirnat,1,Mic Brown,2,Micd up,3,Micheal's Diary,1,Milos Nestorovic,1,Mind and Health,11,Modling Rangers,1,Moscow Bruins,1,Moscow Dragons,2,Moscow Patriots,2,Moscow Spartans,1,Munich Cowboys,1,National Teams,2,Netherlands,4,New Yorker Lions,1,News,475,NFL,2,NFL 2013,86,NFL 2014,9,NFL Color Rush,1,NFL Combine,3,NFL Draft 2013,41,NFL Europe,4,North Kildare Reapers,5,Norway,3,Novi Sad,1,Novi Sad Dukes,13,Orebro Black Knights,1,Orlando Webb,1,Osijek Cannons,1,Oslo Vikings,3,Osnabruck Tigers,6,Osos Rivas,1,Oxford Saints,1,Pancevo Panthers,5,Pass-Sporting,7,Philippines,1,PLFA,42,Plovdiv Wolves,1,Podrzi,1,Poland,33,Poznan Patriots,1,prague black panthers,1,Prague Lions,1,Pre-Draft Analysis,34,Prejudged,1,Pro Hunt,1,RaiZe,3,Ravensburg Razorbacks,1,Rhein Fire,1,Rise & Grind,1,Romania,1,Russia,3,SAAF,12,SafeBet,4,SAFV,1,SAJL,1,Samo Jako,1,Scam Alert,1,Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns,1,Scotland,2,Scottish Claymores,1,Seahawks Sopot,1,Seamen Milano,1,Sebastian Serrano,1,Serbia,27,Shamrock Bowl,8,Siegfried Gehrke,1,Silverbacks,1,Slovenia,2,Spencer Wood,1,Split Sea Wolves,1,SportsTakeoff,2,Srdjan Stanojev,1,Stirling Clansmen,3,StPetersburg Griffins,1,Swarco Raiders,8,Sweden,3,Switzerland,2,Talib Wise,1,TDEU Approved Signings 2014,7,TDEU Blog,11,TDEU Heroes,13,TDEU101,3,Team Cover Story,19,Team News,5,The Extra Point Podcast,4,The Life Of An Import,1,The Takeover,5,The Water Bottle Challenge,1,Thonon Black Panthers,3,Tim Tebow,1,Tony Touchdown Simmons,2,Top 10 Domestic 2017,8,Top Players 2013,4,Top Plays 2013,9,Top Uniforms,2,TopLiga,3,TouchdownTV,1,Trever Hardin,1,Triangle Razorbacks,2,Trinity College,1,Tristan Solo,1,Tychy Falcons,4,UAE Falcons,1,UK,6,UKRedZone,4,Under Armour Camps,9,Uniform Design,2,UniWatchers,3,USA Football,1,USFAF,1,Valerie Durussel,1,Veteran Imports,3,Video,217,Vila Velha,1,Vojin Milic,2,Warsaw Eagles,2,Warsaw Sharks,1,Wasa Royals,2,Waterford Wolves,5,Webinar,3,Weekly Highlights 2013,16,Why Haven't You Signed Them Yet?,3,Wikingowie Gdansk,1,Wojciech Weekly,12,Wongs Wisdom,1,Wroclaw Devils,1,Wroclaw Outlaws,1,Wroclaw Panthers,11,WWC 2013,27,Xenith,1,Zagreb Patriots,2,Zielona Gora Dragons,1,
Touchdown Europe: CEFL Teams: Istanbul Koç Rams of Turkey
CEFL Teams: Istanbul Koç Rams of Turkey
Throughout the years we transformed our team from a college team to a professional team by recognizing mistakes and having the courage to face those.
Touchdown Europe
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content