13 April 2018 – In the wake of organizing many activities in cooperation with UEFA, the Football Federation of Kosovo held today a comprehensive workshop with associations representing persons with special needs as well as representatives of the Vala Super League clubs. This workshop was organized by FFK in cooperation with the European Center for Access to Football (ECAF), where the Director of HANDIKOS, Afrim Maliqi, representative of the Down Syndrome Kosova Association, and representatives of five clubs (Prishtina, Gjilani, Liria, Llapi and Drita) were present, while representatives of other clubs although invited, did not attend. Initially, the FFK Secretary General, Eroll Salihu welcomed the participants, stressing how essential it is to understand the importance of access for persons with special needs in sports facilities, in this case, in football stadiums.
“This workshop is extremely important, as we need to learn from experiences, practices and standards of developed countries in terms of facilitating access for people with special needs to football stadiums. Therefore, besides the federation, which is obliged to meet the criteria in this segment, I also call upon the clubs to start thinking that they will gradually begin to create access to the spaces needed for persons with special needs“, emphasized among others, the Secretary-General, Eroll Salihu.
On the other hand, the Director of HANDIKOS, Afrim Maliqi, emphasized that he feels good that FFK has taken such an initiative to organize this workshop, as according to statistics, about 15 percent of the country’s population may be affected by any restrictions. “We would, like other citizens, like to move freely and be part of every event that is organized in the country, whether sport or other events,” Maliqi said.
Meanwhile, two-stage attendance was taught by the ECAF representative, Jochen Kemmer, who spoke about his experiences in many countries regarding the access to stadiums for persons with special needs, as well as the standards to be met in so that all people feel equal, that is the goal of UEFA. In this regard, he said that the cooperation of FFK and clubs with non-governmental organizations dealing with the support of persons with special needs is very important. During the lecture,Kemmer also mentioned the numerous barriers faced by persons with special needs at stadiums, which should be avoided in the future as well as talking on how to approach such persons and the terminology to be used so they feel equal with others. In addition, he also spoke what the clubs need to undertake to empower persons with special needs.