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27 May 2020 | in NUSF News

Albania: a country where university sports is flourishing

Albania is a country with a huge passion for sports. However, the President of the Albanian University Sports Federation, Besnik Veliu, believes that although almost everybody loves sport, it is not part of people’s everyday life as it should be.

Albania 4

“Sports are considered more as activities, that may not fit everyone’s lifestyle,” said Besnik Veliu to FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy participant Joan Tërova. “In recent years, with the development of Albanian society, steps are being taken regarding the further involvement of sports in our everyday life. This is visible most of all among students, who are increasingly showing a lot more interest towards sports and other physical activities.”


Albania 3According to the President of the federation, there are currently around 1000 active students that are involved in tournaments and another 3000 or so who participate in mass activities organised by the federation. Overall, there are more than 6000 university students who are associated with sports somehow, at their respective universities. 


“We have to mention that these numbers are constantly growing, which signifies that the federation did a really good job in the past few years,” said Veliu.


The development of university sports in Albania picked up only recently with the establishment of the national federation in December 2017. Besnik Veliu, in cooperation with well-known professors and other academic figures, decided to gather all the university sports societies of Albania into an ensemble, and that is when the Albanian University Sports Federation was formed.


Besnik Veliu then attended a meeting in Slovenia with the European University Sports Association (EUSA) and with their approval as well as that of the Albanian Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, the federation was brought to life. Today the federation has a total number of 26 active universities as members. 


Albania 2The federation is doing its best, not simply by providing opportunities for physical activity, but also by informing their students about the importance of sports in their life. Promotional and informative campaigns are routinely conducted, through social media, meetings, conferences with rectors and other events. 


“Shortage of funds and the lack of support from some universities is a challenge,” Besnik Veliu said. “While participation of students in our events is not yet at the expected levels, we are sure that within the next decade, university sports in Albania will reach where it should be.”


Naturally, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the federation’s objectives for 2020 have hit a roadblock, although the national tournaments could finish successfully.


The Albanian University Sports Federation is glad it has been able to gain the trust of FISU and EUSA in a short period of time, thanks to its work and enthusiasm.


“We are really proud that were earned the right to organize university football tournaments in Albania,” continued the federation President. Besnik Veliu proudly remembers the ‘European Universities Combat Games’ held in Zagreb in 2019, where the team won two gold medals.


The federation believes that by uniting people and bringing them together through sport, the world can combat issues such as gender equality and racism.


To conclude, Besnik Veliu said, “Sport is the best tool for educating people about a healthy lifestyle, creating humanitarian values and socialisation. Sport is the path to happiness. Sport is life itself.”


By: Joan Tërova