Albanian football has reflected the nation's turbulent recent history – but has never been short of talent.
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Bringing more people into the game is the primary mission of the Football Association of Albania (FShF), which is striving to improve local infrastructure with plans to lay 100 pitches all over the country, in association with local clubs and municipal authorities. The FShF is also lobbying the national government for legal changes that would encourage investment in the game.
Progress remains positive; there were 12,455 children – from the youngest youth groups to Under-18 – playing for FShF-registered teams in the 2019/20 season, and more like 17,500 more recently. Coaching standards are also improving, the FShF now boasting well over 2,000 UEFA-licensed coaches all over Albania.
The association directly finances all the nation's top-league women's teams, paying players and coaching staff and subsidising travel fees, and is providing support for women's football at youth level too, paying the wages of football teachers in schools as well as supplying free equipment to teams all over Albania. In a matter of two years, the number of girls registered with FShF-backed teams has risen from 800 to nearly 2,000, with a target to bring that number to 4,000 by 2025.
"Our mission is to strengthen the game and promote its values throughout the Albanian population; to improve our performances on the pitch but also the quality of life of all of our citizens. Our commitment is to lay foundations for the years ahead with a focus on engaging more children in football, while developing the competitions and infrastructure that will deliver the best footballing experience possible. We will remain innovative and inclusive in our efforts and act with responsibility and integrity given the pivotal role our sport plays across the country."
Armand Duka, FShF president
UEFA HatTrick funding has been supporting the FShF’s mission to improve facilities all over the country, including the laying of pitches (and mini-pitches). Bigger projects like the refitting of the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder and the Ymer Zeqiri Stadium in Kukes, plus the construction of the Arena Kombëtare in Tirana, have also received UEFA HatTrick backing.
UEFA Foundation for Children in Albania
Set up in 2015, the UEFA Foundation uses football as a vehicle to help improve children’s lives by supporting hundreds of campaigns and projects across Europe and around the world.
Score for Education
The project aims to contribute to a better school environment that promotes and supports healthy lifestyles to enable children to develop their full potential. It is based on the idea that sports, and especially football, play a crucial role in helping people develop healthy practices and attitudes and in improving treatment of the most deprived children.
National team history
Date of birth: 7 October 1962
Association president since: 2002
Date of Birth: 20 January 1971
Association general secretary since: 2012