The Winter Olympics opening ceremonies are today! As we look forward to the Sochi games, we bring you the story of Enkelejda in Albania, who competed in volleyball tournaments through World Vision's Librazhd community ... and had the life-changing opportunity to meet an Olympian!
Each spring in World Vision’s Librazhd community in Albania, school clubs come to participate in volleyball and football tournaments. At the end, the best school club wins the cup provided by World Vision.
“When we asked children what activities they wanted to do in their schools or villages,” says Mira Kota, sponsorship coordinator of Librazhd, “almost all of them answered that if they could they would really desire to play volleyball or football, so we started to support and encourage all the schools to organize and be part of the sport activities.”
From six active school clubs in 2008, 28 different schools participated in 2012. More than 700 children played on behalf of their schools. Some of these clubs also received support through sports uniforms and other materials needed for the tournaments.
The main goals of these activities are to give children an opportunity to develop their talents and to support extra-curricular activities, which are very important for these children who have no other opportunities outside of school.
“Volleyball is my biggest dream,” says 15-year-old Enkelejda. “I play volleyball in my school and at home. This is something that fills my heart with joy and makes me to feel important.”
There is no professional volleyball club in the Librazhd area, where the total population is approximately 80,000. There is only one football club, which struggles to find funds to survive. Unfortunately, only city children have access to this football club. The villages are situated far from the city in the mountainous areas, and most of the children cannot afford the limited transportation. Enkelejda is one of them.
Enkelejda and her club have been the volleyball champions for two years. “This is motivating me to continuing playing, but what I want to achieve in my life is starting a professional school to be a real volleyball player one day, but this is impossible for my economic situation,” said Enkelejda.
During the World Vision tournaments, Enkelejda’s teachers pointed her out as one of the most talented girls, with the ability to be a professional volleyball player if she can access the right education to support her dream.
In 2012, something really special happed to Enkelejda and some of the children of Librazhd. Se Jim Kim, one of the most famous volleyball players in South Korea, was part of the final volleyball tournament between the two best school clubs, and presented the cup to the winner.
Se Jim Kim is a very famous volleyball player who participated in the 2000 Olympics in the final volleyball match between South Korea and Bosnia Herzegovina. He has played with the South Korea National team for more than 30 years as a team leader. And at the 2012 London Olympics, he was a commentator for his national team. Se Jim Kim spent three days with Librazhd volleyball players, encouraging and supporting them.
“Albanian children are really talented and they really deserve to be support[ed] in their dreams for sports,” said Mr. Kim.
“Enkelejda is really special,” he added. “She has a natural gift. She has a great potential to be a very famous volleyball player in the future and I really want to support her dream coming true,” he added.
Mr. Kim committed to support Enkelejda financially, so she can have the professional support and the right education to realize her talent.
“Finally, someone could hear me and I found the answers of my prayers,” she said, her enthusiasm lighting up the room.
Sponsorship helps children stay in school and provides extracurricular activities, in addition to other life-saving basics. Consider sponsoring a child in Albania today!