Luiza Gega's European Medal
Albanian Daily News
Published August 9, 2016

Creating illusions among people, even false ones, is very easy. Even the fact that Albania is a sports power that may sometimes reach European or Olympic peaks is a false illusion. Albania has indeed reached those peaks through different sports, but the way that this success was accompanied by the public has never been complete. Those successes have been mostly used for the creation of illusions and mirages, exploiting the fact that those willing to do so had everything in their hands, the financial power, the media, and the political power. Sport has become an electoral element, like everything else in this system, and with this low level of conscience.

This prologue a bit long, that contains the essence of everything, may be summoned with very few words. Those words are based on the fact that the current Albanian heroine, the athlete Luisa Gega, managed to win the Silver Medal in a European competition, winning the Europe's Vice-Champion title, in the name of a country that has only two fully functional athletic tarmacs. One is located in Elbasan, while the 2nd is located in Korca. A third tarmac is still under construction in "Loro Boriçi" stadium of Shkodra. This tarmac can't be used yet by Luiza, while a fourth nearly ruined tarmac that of "Qemal Stafa" stadium was definitively destroyed a few days ago. Even after the new stadium completion the tarmac will still be absent due to the fact that this sportive complex will be used only for football matches..

There a promise for a new athletic tarmac in the park surrounding Tirana Artifical Lake, causing a large damage while solving a major issue. The green surface of this park, already diminished, will lose another piece, even thanks to the sport.  

Meanwhile, through the destruction of the only existing tarmac in Tirana the Albanian executive, the current and the past ones during last 25 years, have shown the same attitude implemented for buildings construction. They actions are based on the principle "The most important element is the profits for the constructors" while showing a total disregard for the poor living conditions of those that purchase an apartment in those areas. It is than up to the executives to decide whenever it pleases them to begin areas urbanizations". According to this logic if I purchase an apartment in a new area still under construction, where there are no roads, no sewers, no cultural and educative objects, no green surfaces, this means that I live in very bad conditions. This is what happened to Luiza Gega, the pretender for an Olympic Medal in Rio de Janeiro. The fact that Albania has neither an Olympic complex nor a short-term, mid-term or long-term Olympic project seems to be insufficient. Our good sportswoman is denied even those few things that we have, simply because we seem unable to understand that a new tarmac should precede the old one destruction.

Thus, Luiza has been forced to train in Korça, Elbasan, or even in the Artificial Lake Park in Tirana where the conditions are not optimal, neither for an amateur runner nor for an athlete that is reaching the peak of physical preparation. On the other side, the athlete's choice to be trained abroad, aiming to obtain maximal results, as Luiza Gega did a few weeks ago traveling to Africa is a completely different thing.

Those facts are completely unknown by the public opinion due to the fact that have not been told, and the lack of a tradition of demanding to be informed. This tradition will require a lot more time.

All best Albanian sportsman train in the same conditions as Luiza Gega for the Olympic Games, or any other important competition. Olympic sportsman like the athlete Izmir Smajlaj or the weightlifter Briken Calja, while two swimmers Sidni Hoxha and Nikol Merizaj, have the chance to live and train abroad.

The same fate includes even the absolute majority of the Albanian National Team players, along with their staff. They were born and grew up abroad. Some of them are emigrants' sons, like Ergys Kaçe and Elseid Hysaj.

The great success of the Albanian National Team during Euro 2016 final was achieved thanks to this fact. The foreign players influence was decisive while the domestic players influence was minimal, including Coach Gianni De Biasi and his assistants Paolo Tramezani and Erion Bogdani.

The sport in Europe started spontaneously, as an amusement element, by the simple citizens. At least this is what happened to football, box, athletics, cycling, and rugby, in contrast with some aristocratic sports and golf, tennis, riding. Those sports were created by the British society, more specifically by the workers. This was also the origin of the Modern Olympic Games, while there's a common belief that the same element influenced the Olympiads in antiquity.

Despite the essential change that involved these sports, as the former captain of the Albanian National team leader Lin Shllaku once said "Once upon a time the rich people watched the poor people playing, while now the poor people watch the rich people playing, the western societies preserved an important element, their love for the sport and the appreciation of this element for the way of living.

Thanks to this fact countries like England or Gjermany are currently in possession of the right care for the sportsman, while on the other side an Albanian sportsman must win a medal and then have the right to demand something. The civilized countries act on the principle that a child must eat in order to grow up, and the same principle is applied for the sportsman. Meanwhile in Albania a child must grow up and become a man and then we build him a kinder-garden, a school, entertainment areas and give him the chance to exercise in a more professional way.

Sport has never been part of organics in the Albanian society. Poor villagers experiencing numerous major problems, and neither those hundred and thousands that came down to the cities in the socialist and capitalist era could not think about sports. Only a small number of people living in the cities practiced sports during King Zog period, while during the socialist period the priorities were defined by the state and not the people.

This period marked sports evolvement,  the creation of sportive structures, a system wher every one entered this path and if he managed to become a sportsman he would then be paid by the state, in accordance to that period conditions, having a comfortable life. Despite numerous deficiencies, while during '90- the system changing left sport aside until it was completely forgotten.

Today, if you are not a decent football player, or if you are not an elite sportsman in other sports, is not worth taking this path because you can't be paid and build a life, contrary to the developed countries. Semi-professionalism is being slowly established but the path toward sports citizenship is still very long. 

Make yourself at home.

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