Waking up this morning was the hardest thing we had to do but once we were up, we were excited for the day! We got breakfast at our hotel and had toast, strawberries, and cucumbers, we think. We then went to the Ministry of Sports to have a meeting with Aferdita, who is the coach of the Kosovo national team of women's soccer. She is one of the 14 Kosovars that came over to the U.S. In the meeting we were briefed on our itinerary for the next two weeks. Aferdita also gave a short speech about how much this program means to her. She compared the current condition of women's soccer in Kosovo to the state of the country after the war- building. Many Americans, including us, don't understand the magnitude of the hardship the people of Kosovo endured during the war. Visar, our guide and a very tall famous folk singer in Kosovo, told us that in his old neighborhood 13 of his friends are still missing. We also had the pleasure to meet the assistant coach of the Pristina Basketball national team who also has a high position in the Basketball Ministry. He was a very tall, charismatic, and friendly man. Visar said that his life during the war in Kosovo could be a movie and he encourages him to write to Spielberg. We weren't told his entire story, but he was imprisoned and escaped after three years by jumping out of the window of his third floor cell. He then ran to fight in the war again and later lost his brother to the war. Visar says that everyone in Kosovo has been in some way affected by the war. During the meeting we were served macchiatos that were delicious and I later had 2 others that day. I think that may become a daily occurrence.
We then had lunch with our Kosovo friends that came to the United States. The food was very good and it was really nice to see everyone. We talked about our long and eventful flight to Kosovo, our families and dogs, and the soccer programs they have established. Fatjona has recruited 40 girls and Ezana and Rina have recruited 70! The difficulty for their programs is that they don't have trained soccer coaches who lack the experience to impact the skill level of the girls. These coaches, though, are dedicated and excited for the direction women's soccer is going towards and everyone is grateful for the time they are putting in for these girls. After lunch I got another macchiato and then went to a Cup soccer game and saw our friend Dona play. Her team won and Dona scored a goal! They were young teams and didn't have professional coaches but you could see that all the girls had a lot of potential and loved to play soccer! After the game, our friend Nora led us back to our hotel and Emily, Tori and I worked out on the stairs and Kat and Hannah ran in a nearby park. They got many looks from people because women running are not a common occurrence in Kosovo. At 8 we went to dinner that was amazing and then I got another macchiato! We look forward to tomorrow!