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27.10.2014, 12:00
Kosovo look forward to bringing European handball to their country
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FEATURE: After being accepted as full member to the EHF, Kosovo’s men’s handball team prepares for its debut match against Romania in the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 Qualification
 

Kosovo look forward to bringing European handball to their country

When the referee signals the start of the EHF EURO 2018 qualifier on 29 October, Romania against Kosovo, it will be more than a game for a small country in south-east Europe.

Signalling a new beginning for the Kosovo Handball Federation, the youngest member of the EHF is taking its biggest step so far, with the men’s senior national team making its debut in the qualification match for the EHF EURO 2018.

Being recognised as a full member of the European Handball Federation at the EHF Congress 2014 in Dublin has been a landmark achievement in the federation’s handball history.

"There were many circumstances in the past, mostly political that prevented Kosovo from developing handball like many other countries did," the federation's Secretary General Izet Gjinovci told ehf-euro.com.

Political circumstances, as well as financial difficulties have stood in the way of Kosovo Handball Federation, stifling almost any development of the sport.

But people at the Kosovo Handball Federation were determined to overcome these obstacles, working hard and dedicated to bring the level of organisation as close as possible to the standards of the EHF.

"We’ve worked a lot on the advancement of handball in Kosovo over the last ten years (since becoming an associated member federation to the EHF in 2004). Our focus was bringing handball to schools, to the younger generations and this is our on-going task," Gjinovci continues.

Handball the real winner

The determination to compete among the Europe’s best has driven Izet Gjinovci and his associates throughout, and it is now a big challenge in front of them to help handball in Kosovo reach new heights, starting from the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Group C, where they are drawn alongside Romania and Italy. 

"The first qualification match in Bucharest has to be a good handball show, and the winner should be handball," Izet Gjinovci is quick to stress the importance of Kosovo’s debut.

But the priority is clearly on the immense experience and pride for the players, wearing their country’s colours for the first time in an official match.

"We will do our best to qualify, but the main issue is to have opportunity to play and to bring European handball to Kosovo," underlines Izet Gjinovci.

The opportunity to compete on a national team level also bears a long-term importance for Kosovo.

Handball is one of the most popular sports, and their team’s EHF EURO 2018 qualification matches will be followed by a big number of eager supporters.

Having the opportunity to watch their national team play, many younger fans will surely be looking to make their first handballing steps, fulfilling a long-term vision Kosovo Handball Federation has for the future generations.

"I think that in the next 5 to 10 years we will produce a huge number of players, quality teams, and become a strong handball participant. That is what we should do. Hopefully, we will have the support to achieve this goal," says Gjinovci.


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts
 
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