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Sport

Viron Bezhani: Rilindja is the master of polish in sports, but both the left and the right have not done anything for sports

Viron Bezhani: Rilindja is the master of polish in sports, but both the left and

Albania will participate in the Olympic Games in Paris, but there are still question marks about the number of our athletes, because officially only two athletes have caught the norm so far, an athlete and a wrestler, while the others are still competing against the time for them enabled such an achievement. The available time is short and the activities with qualifying value decrease continuously, so it becomes very difficult to achieve the objectives. Of course, there are also invitations for some disciplines, but how many invitations will there be for Albania? This remains to be seen and perhaps this is where the Albanian National Olympic Committee (KOKSH), an institution responsible for the smooth running of Olympic sports in Albania, comes into play. In order to have a clearer situation and of course to have a critical voice for these developments, "SOT" newspaper interviewed the former head of KOKSH, Viron Bezhani, who wished that in the remaining time as many athletes as possible they can catch the norm and ensure participation, but on the other hand, he was harsh both with KOKSH and with the Rama government, which has failed as a whole with sports. He summed up the work of Renaissance in sports as a "masterpiece of lustres". In this interview, Bezhani says that he has not withdrawn from political engagement, but has always sided with sports and athletes.

- Some time ago, in a position you took for our newspaper, you described the work for participating in the Olympics as weak and gave examples of how specific sports and federations were far from achieving their goals. When there are only a few months left until the Paris Olympics and when there is little time left for the athletes to catch up, it seems that our dream of a great Olympic team will remain just a dream, as there is little quality and we are far from expectations. So it is heading towards failure, at least with the current situation. Does this failure result from the low progress of elite athletes, or from wrong sports policies?

- There is no point of discussion that this unpromising situation in sports comes from the wrong sports policy. I have continuously raised the problems, not because I wanted to make criticisms, but because I know the problem, moreover, I have led the Albanian National Olympic Committee for 8 years. Some problems we had before are not present today, since KOKSH receives millions from the state. Although it takes millions to increase efficiency in sports, their policy deals with overalls. I mean it's not invested in the Olympic team. By this I mean that they (athletes) should be stimulated, and opportunities for cooperation with foreigners should be created. To put it bluntly: KOKSH answers for the Olympic team, what has it done?

- Their claim and that of sports institutions as a whole is that there has been no lack of interest...

- More are not interested at all. I have not heard of a fund being given for the collection. To go to the Olympics, you don't work a day before, but you need at least two years of work. I don't blame the athletes, I can't say that, but I know that the Olympic policy was wrong.

- These problems have also existed under your government, so that we can see the coin from both sides...

- This is not the case, on the contrary, I can say that: despite the fact that we did not have the investments that these people receive now, we were able to support the Olympic team, that is, the elite athletes, and we even had a work plan on how to follow them and how to measure the progress of their results. We did it despite the effort, as we did not receive money from the state. But these people have the money, but they don't have the brains. Is the parent of a little athlete satisfied with a pair of tracksuits? Yes, this is scandalous, this does not solve the problem that Albanian sport has today. Let's talk about the pillar of responsibility, which is KOKSH and this institution has an obligation to make Albania appear as well as possible at the Olympic Games.

- What is your opinion about the qualified contingent or that is close to qualification?

- I don't have a definite answer because I feel somewhat removed from the competitions, but according to the information I have, only two athletes have officially secured the qualification. It is little, very little. The barbell has not caught the norm yet and is waiting for a miracle in the final scoring, but there is also a competition that still has qualification value and maybe we can add an athlete. I don't see others. The invitations? It's not that simple, especially for the barbell.

- I don't know how much information you have, but recently, from the conversations we had with federation leaders, they express dissatisfaction with their financial budgets, while KOKSH is thought to receive more. What is your opinion on investment in Albanian sports at present?

- I can tell you that the figures are now staggering, while we had zero lek from the state. We received our investments from internationals, around 100,000 dollars for the collections of which I was the chairman of KOKSH in 8 years, the Albanian state did not give anything. I sent 15 letters, but only a couple of private companies were willing to sponsor.

- How do you see the Olympic representation in the future?

- Mua si Viron, si njeri i lidhur me sportin, më intereson të mbështeten sportistët. Mua sot më duhet të them një të vërtetë, që është e hidhur, por ama është e vërteta. As majtas e as djathtas nuk e duan sportin këtu. Normalisht që duhej ta mbështesnin, por as e kanë në projekt fare. Sidomos këta të Rilindjes bëjnë vetëm lustra. Rilindja është mjeshtre e lustrave në sport. shfrytëzojnë suksesin momental, ku në ballë del ose kryeministri, ose kryetari i bashkisë, por nuk shohin pas perdes që sporti shqiptar është në vdekje klinike. Shumica e veprimeve të tyre janë lustra, asgjë më shumë. Në prapaskenë ne kemi një infrastrukturë mjerane në sport, more po nuk kemi sportistë, nuk kemi atletë, e kuptoni apo jo? Kemi në kalendar kampionat atletike, bëhen garat e s’ka vend të tretë. Pse? Sepse s’ka atletë. Sporte të tilla si mundja, xhudo etj, i hapin e i mbyllin garat brenda ditës, pasi nuk ka sportistë. Ja më thoni, sa çiklistë kemi ne? Në çfarë vendi futemi e ku garojmë? Patjetër që disa koka do të mbahen, ndaj them lustra.

- Duket se ju nuk jeni optimist për të ardhmen e sportit në Shqipëri...

- Nuk ka të ardhme pa investime e kjo bëhet mjaft e prekshme në sport. Ku është e ardhmja kur të rinjtë po largohen masivisht nga vendi? Pse largohen? Sepse nuk u kemi krijuar kushte, nuk kemi menduar për të ardhmen e tyre.

- Një nga vendet ku prodhohen sportistët është shkolla, por këtu me sa duket nuk e kanë kuptuar vlerën e shkollës. A mendoni se shkolla mund ta luajë ende këtë rol?

- Po nuk ka si të prodhojë shkolla e sotme pasi ne e kemi dëmtuar zinxhirin funksional të ndërtuar më parë. Ne mund ta shajmë Enver Hoxhën gjithë ditën, por sistemin e Enverit në sport e kanë sot vendet më të zhvilluara, si Kanadaja etj. Ne vërtet e kemi braktisur atë sistem, por nuk duhet të shkatërronim ato gjërat e mira e pozitive. Ne prishëm sistemin zinxhir të klubeve sportive, prishëm klasat sportive. Sot ti i ke lekët, atëherë jepi drejtim. Një federatë shkollore do të ishte funksionale për këtë, por sa kohë mungon vullneti e profesionalizmi nuk do të korrim frytet e duhura. Me këta, sidomos, duket krejt e pamundur. Pse? Sepse çdo gjë jo e ligjshme do të prodhojë paligjshmëri.

- Ju keni qenë më parë i angazhuar në politikë. A vijoni të jeni ende në këtë angazhim, apo e keni braktisur edhe politikën?

- I have not left my political commitment, I am engaged, but I see that the projects are missing. To put it bluntly, I am disappointed on all sides. The youth of Albania is running away from us, I don't know when this will be understood. Albania wins one or two football matches and it becomes famous, a big noise, everyone rushes to adopt the success, but no one thinks what will happen to the Albanian sport as a whole. In many sports, such as volleyball, basketball, football, etc., our taxes are being used. They hire foreign athletes, pay them well and our talents sit on the bench. They are neither paid nor given a chance. Is there a bigger scandal than this? Today in Albania, no collective sport produces quality elements for the national teams. Most of the athletes representing the national teams come from abroad. We take five foreigners and put them in the formation, but what will be done with ours?

- Maybe one day even the political class can reflect on these problems...

- They lie to us that they will change, they won't. The doctor (Berisha) does not recognize its value, it seems, while for these other two (Rama, Meta) it is a pity since they have practiced the sport and know its value. It is a shame for them not to understand that sport requires politics and not to be politicized. You cannot have a future when you have broken the basis of functionality, when you have melted everything. Give me an activity today that has quality and success? They spend all day promoting sports, 100% gloss. Where are the young people? They just leave the country. Is there a solution? Certainly there is, but it requires will and long-term development projects. When I was a councilor in the Municipality of Tirana, I made a proposal that for those who were building, the project should not be approved if they were not given a condition for the construction of fitness gyms, or any swimming pool or any sport in the service of the community. But meazallah, how did they take it into account, since the profit of the moment has darkened their eyes and the sport they have on the list.

Interviewed by: Adriatik BALLA