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President of the European Canoe Association Albert Woods OBE, Secretary General Branko Lovrić and ECA Board of Directors member Andrej Jelenc visited Albania at the invitation of the Albanian National Olympic Committee to discuss the possibilities for implementation and development of canoeing in this European country.

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ECA’s delegation had a meeting with president of the Albanian Olympic Committee Viron Bezhani and Secretary General Stavri Bello, as well as with president of the Albanian Canoe Federation Sokol Topciu. “My first contact with the Albanian Olympic Committee was with Stavri Bello, the AOC Secretary General, who I came to know when I was the Vice Chairman of the British Olympic Committee, so I have known him for many years as a friend. Then in Zagreb last year at the EOC assembly Branko, Andrej and I had a meeting with the AOC President Viron Bezhani and his Vice President to discuss a visit to Albania with a view to making the sport of canoeing grow in Albania,” Albert Woods explained the path that lead to this official visit.

ECA’s Delegation, accompanied by representatives of the Albanian Olympic Committee and Albanian Canoe Federation, travelled around the country to look at the venues and four existing canoeing clubs in Albania. The discussed development plan includes organisation of canoeing activities on the Lake Tirana, development of international training course for coaches as well as support in much needed equipment. The cooperation between ECA and Albanian Olympic Committee has been agreed to support the efforts of Albanian Canoe Federation.

“This will be a long process because they have limited equipment which the ECA/ICF will help them with in due course. I also had a meeting with Arjan Konomi who is the Head of Policies and Strategies of Sport and Youth at the Albanian Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth who was very helpful and said he was working with schools and helping with funding for young people in sport with some financial support. He hoped that the Sports Federations would link up with this initiative. I feel there is genuine support and incentive in Albania to put the sport of canoeing firmly on the agenda and that in due course they will provide self-funded Albanian athletes for the future. So I am optimistic that with our ECA help we can bring this to fruition,” said Albert Woods OBE.

After the visit in Albania ECA Secretary General Branko Lovrić and ECA Board of directors member Andrej Jelenc also shortly visited neighbouring Kosovo, where there are also incentives for development of canoeing.

Source: European Canoe Association.

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