Albania’s Inspirational Youth Soccer Coach

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Youth Soccer Coach Rudi Piraniqi speaks  about the triumph's and challenges of coaching kids in Albania...

youth soccer

Image credit: ©Reta Ivziku

A passionate youth soccer coach from Shkoder, Albania, has recently celebrated his 400th match as a youth soccer coach. Rudi Piraniqi finished his studies as a physical education teacher in 2010, from Shkodra's University. Following in his father's footsteps, his desire to be a coach could not stay in the shade for long. As soon as he got his degree he started working at Shkodra Football Club, founded and managed by Taip Piraniqi, a success coach in Shkoder.

With a 7-year career  under his belt Rudi is now a proud coach who nostalgically remembers the struggles he had during the early beginnings of a (now) glorious career in youth soccer. Working with kids of different ages requires a certain concentration and patience to face situations, and answer endless questions. This has made Rudi a person with a special temperament, someone who will never lose patience, or a match! His work and passion has increased his value in both the parent's eyes, and as a professional coach in the eyes of the Albanian FA.

youth soccer

Image credit: ©Reta Ivziku

His reputation for hard work has even crossed the national border: Ulcinj, a small city in Montenegro with a minority of Albanians, selected him as the first-ever Albanian coach for their local club Otrant FC. For two years he has been one of the most popular coaches in the city.

You might think that success could go to his head yet he is possessed of a natural simplicity and modesty that belies his depth of experience and his ability to make 11 kids think and act the same in the field.

What makes Rudi continue working with kids in youth soccer instead of coaching an adult team?  His desire to improve conditions for the kids by giving them not only physical skills, but opportunities for confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect.

What does he hate more than losing a match?  When kids say mean words, disrespecting their parents or team mates, it makes him work harder on their education than their football. Rudi believes that you can be a great footballer but if you are not a respectful human being first, then your skills are worthless.

It is not hard to find title coaches all over the world, it is hard to find coaches that never give up, even though they may never get what they really deserve from their job. Rudi coaches kids in Shkoder, where football has always been the first thing you would hear after the city's name. The support he has from government is equal to zero. What he does have is his father's support and persistence for over 20 years.  What he wants now is a field to train his kids, so he can offer them better conditions and increase the numbers to become the biggest private youth soccer club in Albania.

youth soccer

Image credit: ©Reta Ivziku

Rudi's future plans also include creating the first Albanian football club for girls aged 6-13, but it will take time.

"Building a club from scratch without support is not easy, but as long as we have kids who believe in their coach, we will find a way."

Rudi's philosophy reflects his dedication, determination, and commitment:

"Your life IS a football match. It IS your decision to be a goalkeeper or a forwarder, or whatever you choose. I have already made my decision."

youth soccer

Image credit: ©Reta Ivziku

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