Albania-Kosovo joint basketball league, a long standing dream becomes a reality 

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at the inaugural event marking the creation of a united Albanian and Kosovo basketball league:

Thank you very much for providing us this opportunity to partake and share with you a moment, which, in my view, is incredibly important, not simply for the fact that two basketball federations have decided to create a united league and in tandem with their championship coordinate a systematic activity that will involve basketball teams from both sides of the border. But even more than that, for the fact that this initiative opens a new path, creates a model and will surely become an incentive for others to follow it.

Of course, I can only reinforce the opinion given here by both ministers, that we are more than just supporters. We absolutely applaud this initiative and all the initiatives that may follow in order to create a concrete coordination to organize united leagues. And not only united leagues and not only in terms of sports, but also in other domains.

Certainly, this is somehow like the Columbus’ egg, which, when you see it happening, it seems strange why it has was not initiated earlier, or why only basketball is doing it, but of course we needed a period of maturity for these ideas, these wishes, which have existed for a while.

I do remember this long-standing wish of my friends, who are committed to the Basketball Federation, just as I do undoubtedly believe this was the case also on the other side of the border, but ideas need their time and the fact that time has come for this idea is very cheerful.

Much that seems belated today, no more than 10 years ago actually seemed science fiction. And I bear in mind a very simple fact. It was not long time ago when Albanian children on both sides of the border were taught Albanian through completely different alphabet books. It was not long time ago when our education systems were completely separate and operated in completely different paths. This is no longer the case today. Today, not only is there a unified alphabet book that is taught in schools almost in 100% unified curricula and teaching methods and there are still some details yet to be tackled, but it is for sure that the learning and education methods in the education system on both sides of the border is a new and now quite common route.

Just like, not many years ago, students on both sides of the border had to cross over a mountain-high of bureaucracies so that they could freely attend higher education here, or in Pristina. This is no longer the case today! 

This is no longer the case also with many other aspects that include economic interaction, trade interaction, although a lot remain to align.

Creation of a united league marks a step further, as it marks a moment of moving to a whole new level in terms of hosting joint activities. I am very hopeful and quite confident this will provide an impetus and will encourage others too. Especially when it comes to sports, we are not big, even if together, let alone divided from each other, because we are very small, which of course makes it more difficult to create such a competitive space that would favour true competition and privilege talents.

Many sportsmen, even coaches, have earlier travelled to Kosovo to become part of the basketball activities there. Creation of the united basketball league today will allow for this exchange and definitely take this unification to a new level, but what is important; this league raises the level of competition and creates room to have more quality in matches.

Meanwhile, I am also convinced that this is an experience that will make it much faster and will encourage even more the not very easy mechanism to be set in motion, due to a large segmentation of joint sports activities at the university level, or at the pre-university level. I think that this an already not so new idea about hosting joint university and pre-university basketball matches and inclusion of the sports classes in a unified space will be materialized and this is an idea that will be stimulated and encouraged by what is happening today here.

There is infinite goodness, but bad things are quickly forgotten. So, I believe, we Albanians today are much better than we have ever been throughout our history in terms of position and in terms of our rights, wherever we live in the region. If we were to refer to the facts, the difference, not many years ago, but also with 10 years ago, is like day and night.

The space where we are located and the position is hold definitely offer the potential for us to further strengthen, expand and generate more energies in all aspects, but, at the same time, we shouldn’t forget it was not 100 years ago when Albanian basketball players were arrester right on the basketball court, just because they were Albanians, during the notorious game between Trepçe and Mitrovica. In other words, though a bad dream it may sound today, the reality is that all of those who are here today as representatives of this so intriguing sport discipline like basketball have been through such a reality personally as attendees or eyewitness to that game.

Just like, the whole process of basketball survival has been a difficult one, it is still a tough process for 1001 reasons and this League renders to the process a new energy, given the fact, which it is worth saying, in Kosovo there is pretty dynamic and pretty tested elements in terms of management, in terms of organization and competition values. So, it is not a league being created between a great power and a small power, but it is a league being founded between two components that can give something each other and can teach each other, while racing and competing against each other.

I was very pleased to hear from the President of Kosovo Basketball Federation that the League’s activity will be very close to the public via the national broadcasters both in Kosovo and Albania. This will certainly help a lot.

Just like it will be the case with the dialogue and interaction between the League and the governments of both of our countries to better figure out what we can do more and ask for the League’s help so that this example is promoted beyond the white lines of the basketball court, as an example that others should act without further delays to consider and implement in their activities.

It is a beautiful and challenging process of vital integration, as I would describe it, which is indeed the concrete aspect of integration between two parts of our people living in Albania and Kosovo and in this challenge and I am very pleased that the former basketball players made a spectacular jump, I would say, because that’s like slam dunk scoring.

The honourable Deputy Minister of Sports was unable to perform such high jumps, but there are sports personalities here who actually did. The slam dunks – dear Nine – at the time I was merely an admirer of yours and none more than that, were, frankly speaking, much spectacular rather than the three-point shooting, because they were rarer and not many sportsmen were able to perform them, while there were many who excelled in three-point shootings.

And I don’t know why it went so bad today, with others facing you and Mirza, who has outperformed you in three-point shootings. However, Mirza knows quite well it would have been completely unfair for him if he was not to admit he has learned it from you, just like everyone else of us has done. And we were lucky enough that you were able to teach us things you didn’t know for yourself, because you had that magnet as if you were able to do everything. Ninia knew also the things that other performed, yet he didn’t performed them himself as he didn’t wish to do things like Ilir Trebicka, Gaz Çaçi, Pjerini, or Korab did. These were all part of his arsenal, but they were elements he didn’t consider part of virtuosity.

Beyond the joke, which is half-truth, the complete truth is that it is a special pleasure that basketball players did such a significant and meaningful action and invited whole Albanian society in Albania and Kosovo to make an attempt and take a higher jump than the today’s elevation in all plans.

Thank you very much and deep respect for the President of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), a great personality and – I am very pleased to say it – a close and loyal friend of both Albanian federations, who has overcome the COVID-19 barrier just to be present here today.

Much respect Mr. President!