By Cansu Dikme and Meryem Goktas
Turkey's ace motorcycle racer says he regularly visits Syrian refugee families residing in his hometown in northwestern Sakarya province.
Kenan Sofuoglu believes that as an international public figure and five-time winner of Supersport World Championship title, he should lead in humanitarian work.
A public figure should be “beneficial to society”, he told Anadolu Agency.
Sofuoglu’s interest in motorcycle racing began in 1996 when he watched his older brother riding the two-wheelers.
In 2003, at the age of 16, he began participating in competitions.
In 2007, he won the Supersport World Championship, a motorcycle racing competition on paved surfaces.
It was then, at the peak of his career, he realized he had a social responsibility.
“I realized that our words and actions can be more influential on people,” Sofuoglu said.
It is important to be physically involved in a project, rather than just lending it financial support, he added.
After his 2007 win, he became a Kawasaki rider in
Last October, he suffered a hip injury during a qualifying session of the 2017 World Supersport Championship in France.
The 33-year-old sportsman said that after taking leave from active sports, he wants to use his experience to support the future generation.
“My dream is to raise Turkish athletes who will race in Formula One,” Sofuoglu said.
He appreciated how international sports personalities were now raising their voice for humanitarian issues.
Recently, Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo used social media to draw attention to the tragic situation of Syrian children.
"Be strong. Have faith. Never give up," Ronaldo wrote on Twitter.
He also shared video footage about an attack against civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta in February.
Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, has been under siege for the last five years and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to some 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.
In the past eight months, forces of the Assad regime have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.
Syria has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
According to UN officials, to