By Igor Dasic
I am addressing you as a brother, neighbor, uncle, fellow citizen and friend of youth and children in the north of Kosovo.
We bore witness to the mutual disputes of the political elites in Belgrade and Pristina which have once again leaked beyond politics into things that should be untouchable in the 21st century – sports and culture.
While political delegations play war from their comfortable armchairs, the sports halls in the north of Kosovo are once again laying empty during scheduled matches. This may seem harmless and irrelevant to you, but I will ask you all to be part of the following story.
Let us make one thing clear right away, we are not talking about professional sports, but amateurs whose only pay and profit is their love of sports.
Imagine that your twelve-year-old child is playing sports five days a week (happily attending and leaving practice, even though the conditions are not even close to being ideal), looking forward to the day when he will play a sports game against his peers. To play a match in front of his parents, friends from school, his crush, a neighbor or a teacher. And then, a few hours before the scheduled match, in all that euphoria fueled by pure love for the sport he plays, he receives a message from the coach that the game has been canceled because someone simply decided to ban his peers from the rival team from crossing the border. Imagine someone deciding to keep your child away from that sort of experience for which (in those years especially) he has been pouring sweat five days a week, looking forward to it along with his teammates as eagerly as he looks forward to his birthday. Please ask yourself whether the child understands that these are (so-called) political decisions and that this is something he cannot control. Feel the disappointment, sadness, feel that anger of a twelve-year-old child who cares about nothing else but about those few hours of socializing and competing with his peers.
It would be humane if this topic is no longer so harmless and irrelevant for you.
I appeal to the parent, brother, neighbor, and relative in you to help solve this problem – as if it affects your own child. While the idea of peace in the Balkans and the reconciliation between all nations is constantly being touted in the media, this example directly undermines such an idea. By depriving the children the right to sport and competition, hatred and intolerance are being directly sowed and developed.
Prince Albert II of Monaco said:
„Sport has a unique and irreplaceable capacity to unite people, going far beyond ethnic, religious or social differences. I am convinced that sport can be at the long-term service of peace.”
I hope you have the same respect for sports.
I also appeal to all institutions in Belgrade, Pristina, and the international community to recognize the importance of this issue and resolve it as soon as possible. Immediate revocation of this decision is possible because it is a simple agreement and, after all, a sound solution.
We are responsible for what our children will become in the future! Because tomorrow we will not have the right to say that they (from the above-mentioned institutions) are to blame for the lives of our children, but rather we are the ones who have been silent and have done nothing to change this situation.
Let children be children!
Igor Dasic, Zvecan resident
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