Editor-in-chief Besa Luci Photography Editor Atdhe Mulla Design Van Lennep, Amsterdam Xhansel Xhabiri, Prishtina Editors Jack Davies Samantha Freda Michael McKenna Florie Xhemajli Staff Writer Cristina Mari Copy Editor Wesley Schwengels Illustrations Driton Selmani Contributors Gines Alarcon Leke Berisha Artrit Bytyci Bekim Dalipi Adem Ferizaj Virtyt Gaceferri Milot Hasimja Janine Mehmeti James Montague Loic Tregoures
Photographers Fisnik Dobreci Cosmin Iftode Arben Islami Georgios Kefalas Gani Kosumi Visar Kryeziu Jovica Nikolic Drago Sopta Kushtrim Ternava Translation Qerim Ondozi Sales manager Sokol Loshi Financial Manager Hana Ahmeti Project Manager Uran Badivuku Publisher Kosovo Glocal Interns Miradije Avdimetaj Shpresa Frrokaj Qendresa Kallaba Elsa Pichon Webmaster Sprigs
Board Chairman Joan de Boer Member Anna Di Lellio Cover Atdhe Mulla Cover retouch Kushtrim Kunushevci Printer Raster Kosovo 2.0 magazine is available in English, Albanian, and Serbian. Online: www.kosovotwopointzero.com E-mail: magazine@ kosovotwopointzero.eu Subscribe to Kosovo 2.0: E-mail us at email@example.com or visit www. kosovotwopointzero.com/ en/magazine. Financial Support The content does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the donors.
#8 SPORTS SPRING 2015
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR BESA LUCI
— IN SEPTEMBER 2014, Kosovo 2.0 launched an international crowd funding campaign under the slogan “Kosovo Wants to Play.” Much as athletes of sports in Kosovo rely on individual and public investment — both in time and in money — we also relied on the public’s commitment and will to support not only our magazine but also the cause of Kosovo’s athletes. We were convinced that this topic would gather great support and generate debate. That’s because seven years into Kosovo’s independence, sports have been a constant reminder of the nation’s marginalized position in international forums. The inability to participate showed how some basic and fundamental rights are challenged. In the arena of sports, this has been apparent in two main domains. On the one hand, Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence did not translate into an earlier belief that with statehood, the country’s participation in international structures and organizations would be granted. The majority of Kosovo’s sports federations were repeatedly denied membership in their respective international counterparts, leaving Kosovar athletes with few achievable dreams and aspirations. Prospects of world championships and the Olympics appeared far out of reach. Recognizing the growing frustration of athletes and coaches, teams and federations, who saw their exclusion as a denial of their rights, we launched the “Kosovo Wants to Play” campaign in order to raise international awareness of their plea. On the other hand, we were just as convinced that our responsibility as a magazine bestowed on us the obligation to equally highlight the shortcomings that sports in Kosovo have faced due to negligent state policies. The political barriers to the right of representation in international competitions were not acted upon or met with consistent state support. On the contrary, sports were never high on the government agenda, and little has been done over the years to offer the financial and infrastructural support that Kosovar sports need in order to thrive. We began this issue with a determination to point to such barriers and struggles characterizing Kosovo’s sports and with a conviction grounded in the belief that sports can significantly serve as an agent of international recognition and, especially, an internal social and economic force. Halfway through the production of this issue, in December 2014, the International Olympic Committee granted Kosovo full membership, paving the way for the country’s first representation in the Olympics. This news was met with great zeal and excitement, as such membership led to recognition from individual federations as well. Many eyes began turning toward Rio 2016. Meanwhile, 15 Kosovar athletes are also set to receive some modest support in the form of scholarships from local institutions and the International Olympic Committee to assist with their training (see “Who’s Tapped to Represent Kosovo at Rio 2016,” page 51). However, this development also comes at a time when public
debate has been swayed and engulfed with images and reports of hundreds and thousands of Kosovar Albanians seeking a way out of the country — a way out of poverty, the lack of economic perspective, scarce job opportunities, and stained social mobility. A recent news report by French site Footballski.fr delivers the story of two Kosovar athletes who have chosen the same path — the illegal crossing from Serbia into Hungary en route to other countries in the European Union. It reports how Shemsi Osmani, a 26-year-old football player for Llamkos Kosova, and Afrim Ademi, a member of the Trepça football club, no longer see a future in Kosovo, professionally and personally. A previously strong collective optimism has been broken by a lack of economic development and democratization, as well as Kosovo’s continued exclusion from Europe. That is why in this issue we tackle sports as an integral part of our economic and political being, because it transcends discussion of games, scores and favorite teams. This issue ties in with discussions of rights to participation, and representation as a fundamental right; of sports as a catalyzer of social mobility; and how the politics of identity play out in the field. It looks at how sports can become divisive when national rhetoric takes the lead, but also can be a positive and transformative force when the global arena is localized. We have witnessed examples of both instances over the past year. One was the case with the infamous “drone attack” in the Serbia-Albania European Championship qualification game. It attracted worldwide attention that simplistically framed it as yet another example, or syndrome, of how “the Balkans” behave violently. That such a form of fanaticism is not exclusive to the Balkans, is discussed compellingly by Loic Tregoures in this issue’s story “Hooliganism and the Blame Game,” page 14. But sport can also be a unifying force, as became apparent in March 2014, when Kosovo played its first FIFA-sanctioned friendly, against Haiti in Mitrovica. Considered a great step forward for the recognition of Kosovo football, in many ways no other event has gathered as many Kosovars, embracing under the country’s own symbols and f lag, since the declaration of independence. Similar public reactions have also come to the forefront each time two-time world champion judoka Majlinda Kelmendi has brought home a trophy. In the meantime, there is no doubt that until 2016 Olympics are over, Rio will remain in the spotlight. Regardless of the results attained, this will be Kosovo’s “historic representation” in the Olympics. But despite this enthusiasm, we should also acknowledge that international prospects for Kosovar athletes will ultimately depend on tangible conditions created within their country. And the time has come to focus greater attention at home, just as well. — K
CONTENT KOSOVOTWOPOINTZERO MAGAZINE SPORTS - #8 SPRING 2015
No organization, no equipment? No problem. These inventive games are still a good time. By Leke Berisha
Journalist Gani Kosumi’s photos detail a difficult time in Kosovo sports history. By Kosovo 2.0
KEEPING A RECORD
GUIDE TO BALKAN FITNESS Don’t be a dumbbell; learn the secrets to a healthy lifestyle in Kosovo. By Atrit Bytyci
THE ULTIMATE GOAL Kosovo’s Olympic participation could mean much more than a chance at medals. By James Montague
THE BALKANS' BAD RAP When it comes to divisiveness, hooliganism has nothing on nationalism. By Loic Tregoures
IMPERFECT PITCH Even if FIFA’s membership rules make sense, their enforcement doesn’t. By Michael McKenna
#8 SPORTS SPRING 2015
CONTENT KOSOVOTWOPOINTZERO MAGAZINE SPORTS - #8 SPRING 2015
NEXT STOP: RIO
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Judo star and her coach are focused on 2016 Olympic Games. By Virtyt Gaceferri
Swiss football star Xherdan Shaqiri is the pride of his Kosovo village. By Milot Hasimja
'MORE THAN A CLUB'
PEJA TO POLAND, AND BACK
Spanish history runs down the middle of the pitch. By Gines Alarcon
While Kosovo jumps through hoops to form a national team, one star is ready to lead it. By Cristina Mari
FAMILY TIES The sky’s the limit for footballer brothers who have roots in Kosovo. By Adem Ferizaj
96 UNITY IS THE GOAL Organization works across the nation to bring together children of different ethnicities via sport. By Cristina Mari
CONTENT KOSOVOTWOPOINTZERO MAGAZINE SPORTS - #8 SPRING 2015
4 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
78 LOOKING FOR A FIGHTING CHANCE
BY THE NUMBERS
Kosovo wants to play, and the rest of the world is starting to listen. By Besa Luci
Meet four future stars hoping to bring titles, pride to Kosovo. By Cristina Mari We offer a graphical look at the state of sport in Kosovo. By Kosovo 2.0
Lack of organized federations holds back Kosovo's martial artists. By Janine Mehmeti
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS Footballers from Kosovo are winning matches and improving attitudes abroad. By Bekim Dalipi
104 RECREATION NATION
You don't have to be a top-level athlete to enjoy all kinds of sports in Kosovo. By Miradije Avdimetaj and Qendresa Kallaba
51 LOOK FOR THEM IN BRAZIL
108 SURPRISE SPORTS
62 THE GAME BEFORE THE GAMES
68 IN THE SWIM
Presenting the country's best bets to compete in Rio in 2016. By Kosovo 2.0 Handball team's acceptance preceded — and may have helped procure — a spot in the Olympics. By Samantha Freda Lum Zhaveli hopes 2016 is the year his Olympic dreams come true. By Samantha Freda
72 FIGHTING TOWARD BRAZIL
Judo artist doesn't let setbacks crush her goldmedal hopes. By Virtyt Gaceferri
Minigolf, frisbee and rugby are all options in Kosovo, believe it or not. By Shpresa Frrokaj Fitim Krasniqi shows that his favorite sport has legs in Kosovo. By Milot Hasimja Brezovica ski area has faced struggles, but its future may be in good hands. By Milot Hasimja
116 SPORTS AND DOCS
Athletics and film go hand in hand, and these six documentaries are perfect examples. By Kosovo 2.0
76 FROM THE COURT TO THE CLIMB
Kosovo tennis club founder uses outdoor sports, photography to spread his vision. By Cristina Mari
#8 SPORTS SPRING 2015
FUN FOR ALL AGES TEXT BY LEKE BERISHA / ILLUSTRATIONS BY DRITON SELMANI
THESE EIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD GAMES SHOW OFF THE CREATIVITY OF YOUTH THERE ARE LITTLE GAMES IN LIFE THAT ARE OFTEN AS UNIVERSALLY LOVED AS SPORTS. NOT ONLY DO THEY PROVIDE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR EXERCISE, THEY ALSO SERVE TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER, SPECTATORS AND PARTICIPANTS ALIKE, THUS CREATING AN ENTERTAINING ATMOSPHERE FOR ALL. IT’S NO WONDER THEN, THAT PEOPLE HAVE STRIVED TO RE-ENACT AND IMITATE SPORTING ACTIVITIES EVEN WHEN THE NECESSARY TOOLS AND FACILITIES WERE NOT AVAILABLE.
MSHEFTAS ME TOP (BALL HIDE AND SEEK)
DELET E KILLAVTA (TIRED SHEEP)
THE ABSENCE OF THESE FACILITIES HAS LONG BEEN A FACTOR IN KOSOVO, WHICH LED TO CHILDREN COMING UP WITH WHOLE NEW CREATIVE GAMES. WE’VE DECIDED TO ILLUSTRATE AND DESCRIBE EIGHT OF THEM TO GIVE YOU A GLIMPSE OF HOW YOUTH INVENTIVENESS THRIVES — EVEN WHEN IT’S NOT FACILITATED TO ITS FULL POTENTIAL. BUT DON’T GET ALL TEARY-EYED JUST YET, A FEW OF THEM ARE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ABOUT VIOLENCE! ALL IN GOOD FUN THOUGH... *Rules are subject to change depending on the neighborhood, village, city or region.
YTYCI ENNEP L TRIT B BY AR N BY VAN T X E T TRATIO S U L IL
er s, lay g o d Rabid og aren't se of sm to exerci cles ns obsta he Balka t in
DIET, THE ANCIENT SACRIFICE Getting fit is full of sacrifices. It always reminds me of a religious story — the parable of the lamb that Abraham sacrificed to show his devotion. Mmm, juicy, tasty lamb roasted to perfection with a side of greens. Its fatty layer melting in my mouth as I — oops, sorry. It must be my diet-induced hunger acting up again. But, as I was saying, to gain something (or, I suppose, not gain) you will have to give up something. While experts recommend you give up bread and beer, if you can not imagine living without burek and qebapas, you can invert this concept. Just deprive yourself of the vegetables that are served as garnish — you never eat them anyway.
#8 SPORTS SPRING 2015
MOTIVATIONAL SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM The best way to motivate yourself is through the help of friends. Find yourself a reliable friend who makes you feel good and with whom you connect. This is important, not only because they will serve as your spotter (personally, I think that safety is overrated and that the gym should be fun, and the best kind of fun is the reckless kind, when your buddy doesn’t pay attention as your arm muscles fail and you drop a dumbbell on your left foot), but also, and more importantly, to serve as a source of compliments directed toward you.
“WHEN JOINING A GYM, YOU OFTEN GET A BETTER DEAL IF YOU BRING YOUR FRIENDS. THE BEST DEALS THAT MAKE IT FEASIBLE FOR YOU TO JOIN REQUIRE YOU TO RECRUIT ABOUT 10 FRIENDS. THIS WAY, INSTEAD OF LIMITING YOURSELF TO A SINGLE, UNRELIABLE GYM BUDDY FOR YOUR MOTIVATION, YOU GET THE BENEFITS OF A TRUE GYM GANG.”
For this to be effective, you need to set a specific schedule. The reason for this is that the Balkans are located in an area where the gravity field is the strongest in all of Europe, which makes time wrap in an unusual manner throughout this region as described by the Theory of Relativity. In physics circles, this phenomenon is known as Balkan Standard Time (BST), and causes people to chronically be late. Therefore, plan for your exercise partner to show up anytime between two and four hours before or after the initial meeting time.
GYM AS A SOCIAL NETWORK While motivations for going to the gym might vary, the main reason should not be associated with the health benefits, because they are just a by-product of the original intent — to show other people that you are going to the gym. Just like any other social network, the pressure to show off and yell, “Look at me, I’m working out!” is irresistible. In order to achieve this, you have to dress appropriately and wear impeccable makeup, because the gym is a perfect place to increase the image of your social standing through selfies and check-ins. Earrings, necklaces and other bulky accessories will contribute to a higher number of likes. If you are a politician, you have an advantage with these 10-person deals, since you already come to exercise with an entourage of 10 or more bodyguards, squires and personal assistants. If you are just an average citizen, think about it as an exercise in self-esteem. Surrounded by your gym gang, you, too, could feel as powerful and important as a politician.
AN EXISTENTIAL WARM-UP Physical inactivity makes your body tense, and the best way to loosen your muscles is through a series of warm-up and cardio exercises. While the main reason for this might appear to be health-related, its real point is to prevent you from looking uncool in the eyes of others. Just think of the embarrassment that you might go through if you have a heart attack while pulling a muscle or dislocating a shoulder from lifting a heavy weight.
TRADITIONALLY, CARDIO EXERCISES ENTAIL RUNNING AND BIKING
“IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT THE IDEA FOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S ROLE IN 'THE RUNNING MAN' WAS BASED ON MY NEIGHBOR’S EXPERIENCE OF BEING CHASED BY A HORDE OF RABID, WILD DOGS ON ONE COOL SPRING NIGHT WHEN THE MOON WAS FULL.”
In Kosovo, a biking warm-up is classified not only as an extreme sport, but also as a survival technique, as the objective is to dodge deadly cars coming at you from all directions. There is even a Hollywood film based on true events that transpired in Kosovo. Sylvester Stallone’s role in the classic action movie “Death Race 2000” was inspired by Kosovo’s lack of dedicated bike lanes. Running and jogging in Kosovo was similarly responsible for another Hollywood blockbuster. Many attempts have been made by different administrations and political parties to change this state of affairs, but they were always repelled by the force of public opinion, which saw the lack of bike lanes and the surplus of dogs roaming at night as a great advantage. How else could we come to terms with our own inner selves? The deadly nature of these sports serves not only as a metaphor, but also as a continuous reminder of the unpredictability and constant struggle of life.
#8 SPORTS SPRING 2015
THERMODYNAMICS OF BREATHING It is important that you breathe properly while you exercise. You have been breathing all your life, and have done so without reading a user’s manual telling you to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Be a rebel every once in a while; even try not breathing, if you feel like it. The important thing is that you also properly exercise your lungs. Increased lung capacity means more oxygen is available to help your muscles burn sugars and convert them into energy. It’s like your body is composed of millions of tiny power plants.
once toxic substances are introduced to breathing organs, a person’s breathing rate adapts automatically to compensate for them. Luckily, Kosovo has the best quality of polluted air in the region, thanks to its vintage coal-burning power plants. Traditional artisanal techniques are employed in the mass production of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and all types of unclassifiable particulate matter, as well as mercury. It is as if each and every one of these molecules is personally hand crafted for your pleasure to provide you with a breathing experience full of character. It is as complex as geographically protected varieties of wine and cheese.
It is a big misconception that you need clean air for staying fit. Recent studies sponsored by the Consortium for Clean Coal Technology have offered new insight into ways to increase lung capacity; research shows that
WEIGHT LIFTING TELEKINESIS In order to sculpt your upper body, you must first work on your legs. It might seem a bit counterintuitive, but it is important because exercising your lower body will help you stand better and more firmly, therefore making you able to lift heavier weights. The best way to do this on a low budget is if you have a broken elevator in your apartment building. Climbing the steps all the way to your floor achieves the same results as an expensive StairMaster.
weights have to be physical. The latest research shows that mental weightlifting is better for your health. People’s lives are full of problems, from intrigues with friends or family to problems with unpaid bills, or perhaps worrying that your preferred sport has not been recognized by whatever international organization is in charge of it. All that burden that you carry on your back is good for building your muscles.
One of the classic misconceptions that a fitness novice makes is thinking that in order to build muscles, you have to physically lift heavy weights. Actually, you can lift lighter weights and do more repetitions. Another misconception is that these
Once the problem is solved and the weight is lifted, it is recommended you find another problem to preoccupy yourself with; Kosovo sure has an abundance of them.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HYDRATION
IT IS IMPORTANT TO DRINK A LOT OF WATER WHILE YOU EXERCISE.
s it.hline. ’ t a h T punc No
THE IMPORTANCE OF REST AND RECUPERATION
Kosovo’s competitive resting team is still not allowed to play in tournaments because of the fierce lobbying blockade from Serbia’s side. Kosovo’s team was awarded a provisional acceptance into the Federation of Competitive Resting only a year ago, and is allowed to play only friendly games. According to Kosovo’s Ministry of Sports, its athletes are expected to gain full membership soon and start winning championships through a home-grown technique of frequent cigarette and coffee breaks. — K
One of the most overlooked elements of a successful exercise routine has nothing to do with exercise itself, but rather with the lack thereof. In order for your body to obtain all of the advantages of driving its muscles to the brink of destruction, it is essential to give them ample time to rebuild through frequent breaks and rest.
Artrit Bytyci is from Prishtina and Prizren, currently pursuing
It could be said that resting is a national sport in the Balkans. Currently, Montenegro holds the gold medal in the sport of resting. Its olympic competitor won by a slim margin in a finals contest when he woke from a deep sleep and announced that he needed to take a seat and rest a little.
an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School in New York City with a background in biological sciences as well. Artrit tries to eat healthy and exercise at least three times a week at his neighborhood gym in Queens. To date, all such attempts have given inconclusive results.
#8 SPORTS SPRING 2015
HOOLIGANS AND THE BLAME GAME 14
Balkan football fanatics get a bad rap, but the real troublemakers may live in palaces
to the Serbian variant. It has been said that hooliganism in the Balkans is special because of the war and the roles played by football fans themselves on the battlefield, as if a Delije from Red Star enrolled in Arkan’s Tigers and a Maniac from Zeljeznicar Sarajevo enrolled to defend his besieged city were the same thing. As such, the question of whether all of them should be called hooligans is debatable.
TEXT BY LOIC TREGOURES / ILLUSTRATION BY VAN LENNEP
FOOTBALL AND WAR — ON OCT. 24, A LANDMARK EUROPEAN qualifying match was held in Belgrade. The two teams? Serbia and Albania — a situation that was historically and politically tense for obvious reasons, and one that saw Serbian officials take unforeseen measures (such as preventing Albanian fans from attending) to control the fans. The game (and what happened during that game) triggered two kinds of comments. First, in the European press — in Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport, for instance — it was argued that UEFA should never have allowed Albania and Serbia to play each other, given the political situation in Kosovo. And second, within the region and among Serbs and Albanians, and especially on social networks, even many reasonable people wrote xenophobic and extreme comments that were driven by emotions and chauvinism. That this second type of comment proved so common came as no surprise, and would have happened anyway had the game been played through (depending on who the winner would have been). However, the way this situation was treated abroad shows evidence that what Bulgarian historian, philosopher and “Imagining The Balkans” author Maria Todorova has called “Balkanism” — or the collection of negative clichés that Western audiences associate with the Balkans in place of rational thought — is still prevalent. Comparisons with the famous game between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade — two top-scoring teams from the Yugoslav era — from May 1990 rose again. In this way, the international press, through its laziness and ignorance, fell into the same trap that it did 20 years ago when it substituted symbols for politics in order to explain the wars of the former Yugoslavia. No one noticed that a similar incident occurred in France in the same week as the ill-fated match in Belgrade. No one noticed that neo-Nazi hooligans gathered in Cologne, Germany, and fought the police. Noticing these things would have produced a degree of cognitive dissonance, given the strength of the “Balkanism” belief: Only in the barbaric Balkans this can happen. There is no such thing as “Balkan hooliganism,” just as there is no such thing as Homo Balkanicus. Hooliganism is a social phenomenon known all over Europe, even in quiet Sweden. It is nonetheless true that some sociological similarities can be raised between certain countries — but looked at in this light, Croatian hooliganism seems closer to Polish hooliganism than
The role football played before and during the wars in Yugoslavia is the result of two key factors. The first one is the export, at that time, of new and extreme models of fandom — namely, the Italian ultra model and the English hooligan model. Most football fan groups that were involved in the wars of the former Yugoslavia were formed and became strong in the ’80s. The second factor is the very specific political, economic and social context that made such wars first thinkable and then possible. Laura Silber and Allan Little — the authors of “Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation” — have showed evidence that the breakup of Yugoslavia was the result of a political and criminal project from the top (politicians, intellectuals and churches, mainly), rather than the result of ancient hatreds at the bottom. In that situation, football obviously played a part. Football fans were and are responsible for spreading hate and trivializing violence toward the dehumanized “other,” making it attractive to hundreds of young men and boys who were willing to show off their masculinity in a collapsing country where going to war and using violence was seen as sexy (as anthropologist Ivan Colovic showed in his analyses of Serbian political symbolism). However, putting the responsibility for the war on to football hooligans makes absolutely no sense. The people who kill, rape and torture on the field are not more responsible than the masterminds of this disaster in their presidential palaces. No one ever wondered why the usual fights between Czech and Slovak hooligans, or between Ukrainians and Russians in the late ’80s, never ended in a real war. All in all, those cases demonstrate the political plasticity of football and sport in
— There is no such thing as “Balkan hooliganism,” just as there is no such thing as Homo Balkanicus. Hooliganism is a social phenomenon known all over Europe, even in quiet Sweden. #8 SPORTS SPRING 2015