By Legjenda Rama, YES’14
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does; sports can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This is my favorite quote about sports from Nelson Mandela. What else better than a gathering of young children would help us apply this quote in our life?!
Being a former participant on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study – YES (a high school exchange program funded by U.S. Department of State) I wanted to transmit my gained knowledge back to my home community. That’s why other returning alumni (2013-2014) and I decided to make a change through sports. We decided to gather youngsters from three different cities (Prishtina, Prizren and Ferizaj) for a week long training, which would not only give the kids time to socialize and gaining skills, but would also educate them on the importance of sports. The end of the project would be celebrated by a joint match between the three cities.
The first portion of the activity took place in Ferizaj, November 4th through November 8th. Qendrim Asllani YES’14 and I led the project throughout the week with the great help of Endrit Bytyqi (who co-coached with Qendrim). We coordinated 18 participants aged 8-12 years old from different backgrounds, 10 females and 8 males. The reason why I am emphasizing this is because it is one of the few male traditional activities where females participate in a larger number.
A typical session started with a warm-up game. This helped the children start the training with a very positive attitude and get them into the sport. The practice contain different aspects of soccer; passing, receiving, learning penalties etc. In addition to the technique of playing soccer, the kids learned how to understand the strategies, read the mind of the opponents, be crafty and swift, and really love the art of playing soccer. In the end of the practice, the players would be divided into two groups and play a mini-soccer game.
The children’s attendance and the positive approach showed how much they enjoyed coming to practice every day. The motivation and the special will to learn a new sport kept the practice going, entertaining and efficient. “I never thought I’d like soccer because I thought it was a game for boys, but now I can’t wait to play again” said one of the girls. After the project ended, the children started organizing on their own to go and play soccer. This showed that the project not only reached its goals, but definitely surpassed them.
Soccer taught these kids that there is no such thing as a certain sport is for a certain gender. Sports speak a universal language. Sport is what brings people together to a mutual hobby, thus creating peace and cooperation among them. They learned something new to do in their free time–something relaxing and easy that doesn’t require any expense. This awareness will continue the next weeks in the other cities.