Most Valuable Peacemakers (MVPs) awarded across Albania – Football For Peace

Most Valuable Peacemakers (MVPs) awarded across Albania

In partnership with the US State Department, the Municipality of Durrës and Tirana, The US Embassy in Tirana and The Balkan Forum the MVP program trained and upskilled 100 underprivileged boys and girls in Durrës and Tirana.

Football for Peace create Most Valuable Peacemakers (MVPs) across Albania,  building resilience and educating young people in tackling local challenges and safeguarding them from negative pathways.

The program featured distinguished special guest appearances, among which included Denion Meidani, National Director of the CVE Center, Albanian National Team Goalkeeper Alen Sherri, Champions League referee Enea Jorgji plus many others to provide a unique perspective of the programmes key learning materials. The graduation ceremonies to recognise the hard work of the young participants was led by the Mayor of Durrës Emiriana Sako and Genci Kojdheli General Director for the Municipality of Tirana.

December 27th, 2023

Football for Peace (FfP) in partnership with The U.S. State Department, the Municipality of Durrës and Tirana, The U.S. Embassy in Tirana and The Balkan Forum delivered impactful programs in the cities of Durrës and Tirana, focused on educating participants on a range of themes to tackle local challenges. The program was designed to utilise the power of football and its ability to showcase fundamental values required for development and peace, such as soft skills, communication, respect and leadership. The programme engaged a diverse range of vulnerable young people in a program of community-level activity, which included football training sessions and life skills workshops. Programs across both locations had special guest speakers including Albanian National Team Goalkeeper Alen Sherri, Former Albanian National Team Coach Astrit Hafizi, Well known Albanian Football Referee Enea Jorgji.


Erisa Dida, MVP Participant in Durres said: In this activity we have learned to find our worth and increase self esteem, to know and manage our emotions, to respect others, to avoid violence and bullying and be tolerant. We as female footballers still need moral, material and financial support in our daily training to bring better results and increase our motivation. We are thankful for this experience and highly appreciate the work done by Football for Peace. We would like to have other opportunities to foster our life and sport skills. 

Mr. Astrit Istrefi, Executive Director of The Balkan Forum said: “The approach of methods employed through football empowers, connects, and inspires change and hope. It is a game that brings everyone together, and teaches youth skills to build a future based on collaboration and meaningful activities. The Football for Peace program fosters teamwork, discipline, and resilience, creating a ripple of a regional impact, nurturing a generation of leaders guided by equality and understanding.”

Denion Meidani, Director/National Coordinator at The CVE Coordination Center for Ministry of Internal Affairs said: “Thrilled to have assisted in the organisation and successful completion of an inspiring program organized by Football for Peace (FfP). This impactful initiative took place across two major cities in Albania, where participants embarked on an exhilarating educational experience, centering around community resilience and tackling local challenges. The program’s objective was also to showcase the vast potential of football as a driving force to counter violent extremism while fostering development and peace. Such prevention work is much needed in our cities where football is coupled with hard work like that of Football for Peace Global and its local partners like IANS geared at placing significant emphasis on essential values like soft skills, communication, respect, and leadership.”

The Durrës program trained 50 young people who graduated as MVPs on the 22nd of June at the Pallati Sportit “Ramazan Njala,” and the Tirana program trained another 50 young people who graduated on the 13th of December at Salla e Koncerteve Tonin Harapi. Both ceremonies awarded MVPs for their hard work, commitment and dedication to completing the programme. 

Mrs Emiriana Sako, Mayor of Durrës said: We are delighted and thankful for the donors and partners that made it possible to organize this first project in Durres. In our city there are almost 2,000 youth registered in football clubs and considering such interest, together with the Albanian government we are undertaking an initiative to incorporate football into schools. Nowadays we are more aware of the importance of sport and education on youth perspective and wellbeing. As a municipality we aim to invest more on sports, but this cannot be done in one day and without the support of all actors.

Dexter Ingram, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Counter Terrorism, Director of Countering Violent Extremism said: Connecting with civil society and everyday citizens is an important tool in countering violent extremism. Football for Peace has done excellent work in Albania to prevent radicalization and to develop young people by giving them resilience skills that will last their entire lives. We are proud to support programs that work to counter the threat of radicalization and support the global effort to keep people and societies safe from extremist ideology. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Football for Peace in the future.

Football for Peace is a global charity based in the UK, India, Chile, and most recently the USA, that is supported by the United Nations. Football for Peace builds sustainable initiatives to support communities across the globe by bringing peace and prosperity through implementing advocacy and peace-building approaches. The mission is to advance a new era of sports diplomacy by advocating and building frameworks around issues on Water Prosperity, Human Empowerment, Societal Resilience.

Building resilience and creating opportunities for dialogue is a key part of building stronger relationships among our participants, and it is a key pillar of Football for Peace. Our goal is to provide experiences that inspire participants of our program and leave a lasting, positive impact. Football has the unique ability to offer skills that can be used both on and off the pitch, including ‘soft’ transferable skills such as team building and communication skills.

Jay Jadeja, Football for Peace Head of Global Affairs said: Football for Peace believes that football is one of the most powerful sports, it touches and connects nearly 5 billion people across the world, and it is our commitment to use the influence of such a sport to enable positive changes and create as much impact as possible. The FfP MVP Programs in Albania supported youth through upskilling them in leadership skills, communication skills, teamwork and building resilience. I want to thank the commitment of our partners and individuals who supported the delivery of this successful program.

Albania confronts an increasingly complex landscape, requiring simultaneous efforts to address multiple challenges encompassing security threats and the aftermath of a health pandemic. Young people require great resilience to stay on positive pathways. The program focused on how football can be used as a tool to build resilience to a range of social harms; strengthening youth safeguarding; and creating positive pathways from conflict and violence.

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