by Ian Marshall, Editor
Somewhat significantly, the International Table Tennis Federation was the first such organisation to accept Kosovo, the membership being officially accepted at the Liebherr 2003 World Championships in Paris.
The acceptance followed a coach education course organised under the ethos of the ITTF Development Programme earlier in the year in February under the guidance of Croatia’s Roman Plese; later he visited in May 2003 and July 2004. More recently, Aleksey Yefremov led a similar project in July 2011 as did Christian Lillieroos of the United States in November 2017.
Support from the International Table Tennis Federation, it is a fact of which Kastriot Orana, Board Member of the Table Tennis Federation of Kosovo, was well aware when interviewed by local television.
“The International Table Tennis Federation was the first international federation to give recognition; so since the admission of our federation into the international arena we have been actively participating in European and World competitions. We have good co-operation and good relationships with the European Table Tennis Union and the International Table Tennis Federation. We consider activities, such as European Week of Sports, very important to get kids and parents closer to sports in general, including table tennis.” Kastriot Orana
Fair play award
Admitted the world scene; Kosovo has made its mark. At the Qoros 2015 World Championships, in the preliminary round of the mixed doubles event, Linor Citaku and Vlona Maloku were drawn to play Kenya’s Harshal Shah and Sejal Thakkar. Unfortunately, the Kenyans rackets did not meet the required standards; Linor Citaku and Vlona Maloku offered their opponents their spare rackets, Harshal Shah and Sejal Thakkar accepted the offer, the match progressed.
The Kosovo duo prevailed in straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-3), before in the next round losing to Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs but not without causing some concern by extracting the third game (11-6, 11-3, 12-10, 9-11, 11-4).
Deservedly, the outcome was at the Lisbon 2015 ITTF Star Awards, presented by Isabel Beumier on behalf of the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee, they received the Fair Play trophy.
A notable success under the leadership of Nehat Çitaku, the President of the Table Tennis Federation of Kosovo, as are the present attempts to use table tennis as a vehicle to encourage physical activity and a give the state an increasing sense of identity.
“Kosovo through sport shows that it is physically in Europe even though we are not yet part of it; with such activities we express once again that we are undoubtedly part of Europe.” Nehat Çitaku
Notably there has been a most positive response Samire Jupolli, a representative of the Kosovo Deaf Association, was particular pleased.
“I am pleased with the participation in all kinds of activities including #BeActive’s activity for which we are here today. We are thankful to Table Tennis Federation of Kosovo for the equal opportunity.” Samire Jupolli
Equally, Gresa Statovci, simply enjoying playing table tennis and with no great additional motive was delighted.
“I think it is very important for all the citizens of Kosovo to be involved in sports as much as possible. I see a new spirit coming into our society regarding sport, not just for health but also for well-being and for a positive energy in our small country.” Gresa Statovci
A step forward for Kosovo, a step forward for an area of the world that seeks peace and stability; table tennis very much plays a pivotal role.