By Namik Mehmeti
Memorie.al / The character of this article is one of the most prominent figures in the field of sports, where through the exercise of several types of sports, he faced a long persecution, feeling the class struggle on his shoulders since the age of 15-16 year. Skender Bushati, known on the pages of the sports press in the years of the communist dictatorship, with the surname Fusha, is one of the clansmen of the well-known tribe in the city of Shkodra, a tribe with ancient traditions in the North of Albania, the Bushati tribe. Known, not only in Shkodër, and in Albania, but up to the gates of the Sultans of Turkey and the European Chancellors.
The ancestors of Skender Bushati’s tribe belong to the side that opposed communism, without being installed in Albania, and as the grandson of the former prime minister Malik Bushati, shot by the communist dictatorship in 1946, for half a century, will this “stain” in his biography would follow him, as his father, Fadil Bushati, and aunt Haki Bushati, were imprisoned like Malik Bushati’s brothers. Until the beginning of the 90s, i.e. the collapse of the Enverian regime, and the triumph of Democracy, even though he was born in Shkodër in a family with patriotic, historical and civic values, not only from the legacy of the Bushatlli tribe, but also from the inheritance of the mother, Ixhlali, was not inferior to the Bushatllinjes.
A connection with the Kopliku family, Dr. Bahri Kopliku, the only cardiologist in the northern city, known in Shkodër as the most benevolent doctor of the people of Shkodër and with Bashkim Kopliku (Deputy Prime Minister since the first Democratic government), as close to the Hoti brothers, the historian, Burhan Hoti, the athletes Sadet and Surri Hoti, and the surgeon, Ferit Hoti, and with the same line as the Dizdars, the well-known specialist in veterinary sciences, Petrit Dizdari, and the affirmed sports journalist, Besnik Dizdari, as well as the two brothers Alush and Agron Mehmeti (Ulqinaku ), (Alushi electrical engineer, while Agroni, talented violinist and basketball player), persecuted family.
Skenderi had left his hometown at the age of 16, leaving behind childhood memories that were related to the anxiety of the class war and sports, where at the age of 14 he would become active with the youth teams of “Vllaznia”. in athletics, where the well-known coaches, Ibrahim and Feti Dizdari, had marked a very promising future for Albanian athletics.
IN TROPOJA, TO SECURE THE FUTURE…!
With the support of his close people, especially Burhan Hoti, who performed the duties of the Inspector of Education in the northern part of Albania, Skënderi, began his teaching career in the village of Kërnaj, finding a hostile environment, as many teachers, who were the targets of the class war, had left their families to ensure survival. But there was also the generosity of the Tropojana families, which made it easier for them to separate from their hometown, Shkodra, from their parents and relatives with a wide range in the Shkodra neighborhoods and from those friends who had picked up, to start the friendship and youth society.
And for more and separation from sports, athletics, who dreamed that he would be a character with values, for the “Brotherhood” of Shkodra. In order not to lose physical freshness, in the north of Tropoja, he sewed himself to the gorges and peaks of the Jezerca mountain, where he does not lack the courage to climb the 2,300 m quota. After four years, after gaining the experience of a qualified teacher, he came down from the North of Albania, in the middle of it, to Lushnje, with the full conviction that; The Northern Alps have favored it to practice athletics and volleyball.
17 YEARS IN THE VILLAGES OF LUSHNJE
Although far from the engaged hyenas that encouraged and activated the State Security in his hometown, Skenderi felt that, as an anti-communist family, that enjoyed respect and honor in Shkodra’s citizens, that he was persecuted and eavesdropped by the communist nomenclature. There was no lack of anonymous letters, which viewed him as unmotivated, his being on the front of youth education, i.e. as a teacher. It was not the last name Fusha, which protected against anonymous alerts and letters, why not from Shkodra even with the signature of a communist dressed in power, but his attitude with a premature formation as an intellectual, with an exemplary kindness, for the inhabitants of Krutje and their children, who entrusted their education without hesitation.
Just like in Tropoja and in the villages of Myzeqe, Skenderi would be respected and honored, for his honest communication, for his teaching skills and for what I am giving to Krutje, affirmation at the national level, with sports. Those years, even though far from his hometown, Skenderi remembers with nostalgia, as he not only sees himself as his talent, but also presents himself with cooperative teams. Raises the volleyball team, becomes active as a coach and main shooter in the team, where Krutja would become known, not only in Lushnje, but also on a national scale. Krutje’s team, in the National Spartakiad of Agricultural Cooperatives, would be honored with places of honor on the winner’s podium. And it will not be long before the echo of the success of this team will cross the borders of Lushnja, when Krutja, led by Skënder, will also win against the team of “Apolonija” from Fier.
Without a doubt, the leaders of the Sports Club “Traktori” would make a place for him in the city team, where from 1960, for 13 consecutive years, he will be a member of it, as always in the role of a potent shooter. I don’t miss that “Traktori” was the protagonist and winner as champion in the second category, but also felt the joy, playing in the first category, of the national volleyball championship, in front of “Dinamo”, “Partizan”, “Vllaznia” “, etc. Another affirmation as a class athlete, Skenderi demonstrated in athletics, where again in Lushnje, in the shot put and triple jump. The result in the shot put, at the limit of 13 m., would bring an unexpected turn, in his life and even more, in the direction of sports.
SOLDIER IN THE KNOWN TEAM OF THE CAPITAL “PARTIZAN” OF THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE.
There is an objective reason for leaving Lushnja, i.e. from the teaching profession and sports, where after 20 years the Traktori sports club awarded him the title “Master of Sports”. The age to perform military service had reached the maximum limit, i.e. the age formalized by law, the age of 27. Only this, the performance of military service, could not be avoided by any citizen, regardless of family reasons and political conditions. Skenderi’s name was also present in the “Partizani” Sports Club, where the coach and specialist of “Partizani” were familiar with his results in athletics. Moreover, many of Skenderi’s fellow citizens, from Shkodra, well-known sportsmen, such as in football, basketball, volleyball, athletics, etc., who had loans with the leaders of “Partizan”, had given their recommendations, that Skenderi would to be a versatile athlete, at high levels.
“The result of pushing the shot at 13 m. it was an indisputable guarantee. It was not easy for me, knowing that my biography in Shkodër was discussed every time my name was mentioned in the sports press. But, in this Club, despite representing the Ministry of Defense and being under the patronage of well-known generals, like my case, ‘with stains on their biographies’, there were many athletes of international level, who were treated with no difference to athletes with good biographies”, – remembers Skenderi. However, he could not represent the colors of this Club for more than a year, since the political events in which Albania was involved in the years 1966-’67, the intensification of the class war, the strengthening of the communist dictatorship, forced him to leave of many athletes with “blemishes in their biographies”, and Skenderi’s name was among the list of those who left.
An episode that Skenderi has fixed in his memory during his stay at “Partizani” and that will make him known in the interviews he has given over the years, is his participation in the national athletics championship in Shkodër, where the coaches federate him in the most difficult race, the one of 10 races. Although he had no specialization and training for this race, Skenderi challenges his opponents, completing only 9 races.
He could not complete the tenth competition, that of pole vaulting, as he had never tried such a thing in training. However, it manages to be classified fourth. In addition to the shot-put race, which was his profile, he also tries the other eight disciplines, all 10 races, for the first time. In the long jump, he sets the figures of 6.42 m., when the national record of his fellow citizen, the well-known master, Hysni Bebeziqi, was 6.99. m. In this national championship, Skenderi attracted not only the attention of the Albanian coaches, but also the coach of the Chinese team, who had come to a friendly meeting in our country. The high physical preparation was the crowning success of this race, which also engaged the Chinese coach to time the 400 m race.
THE RETURN AGAIN TO LUSHNJE
Lushnja became the second city, after Shkodra, for the talented athlete Skënder Bushati. He had acclimatized to life and society in this city, where there were also Shkodrans who worked as agricultural specialists in the Veterinary Institute of this city.
Undoubtedly, he approaches as a main player in the volleyball team, where the role of the goalkeeper, despite all the years he has had on his back, does not easily diminish his physical and technical strength. He was active as a main player until the age of 33, and his departure was greeted and appreciated by Lušnjars, by the leaders of sports and local government. What did it mean that; Shkodran, persecuted by biography, was not just a foreigner, but a citizen respected and appreciated for his intellect.
And when it comes to sports, Skenderi shows his values when he engages as a coach of the women’s team, where in the village of Krutje, he organizes the women’s team, which will represent Lushnje with great success, in the National Spartakiad of Agricultural Cooperatives. Although Skenderi has never shown it as a merit of his own, he affirms that there are girls in this team who would become popular in Albania, as politicians, reaching the highest forums of the Labor Party, up to the Political Bureau, even as secretary of the Central Committee of PPSh, as was the case of Lenka Čukos. It was the journalists who used this fact to increase the credentials of a persecuted intellectual, but Skenderi has never boasted that he has a merit in the journey of a brigadier, sector manager, chairman of an agricultural cooperative, until in the highest hierarchy of the Party – State.
AND FINALLY, IN SHKODA
He returns to his hometown, near his mother Ixhlal and his brother Genci, with the rights of an autochthonous Shkodran citizen, but unwilling to continue his profession as a teacher. Even Skenderi was involved in the vortex of an extreme escalation of the class war, which the communist dictatorship would implement throughout Albania, targeting the most respected army, that of teachers.
The political events of 1976 were also accompanied by this anti-human “reform”, finding that, in the class of teachers with a bad biography, there was an enemy that endangered the survival of the communist dictatorship. And Shkodra was more targeted than any other district in Albania, in the implementation of the directives of the Political Bureau, for the class war, where they were followed, not only those who worked in the villages, (from Velipoja to Dukagjin and Vermosh), but also those teachers that, in order to survive, they had sacrificed, to work in: Tropoja, Kukës, Mirdita, Pukë and as in the case of Skënder, up to the villages of Myzeqë.
Although at the age of nearly 40, Skenderi did not submit to this persecution. With the manly character that had characterized him since the age of 16, where sport had given him energy, will and why not intellect, he also challenged the work of an agricultural worker, he worked at Bushati Farm, doing him a favor, once again, he undertakes the organization of sports activities. There they find another basketball player, who made a name for himself as a “Deserved Master of Sports”, not only at “Vllaznia”, the former “17 Nëntori” of Tirana, but also with the Albanian National Team, Filip Guraziu, and he is not only removed from education, but also from sports. Even here in Bushat, he would leave his mark and not be forgotten by the sports fans of this area, when in the National Spartakiad, of Agricultural Enterprises, he takes first place in volleyball, where he always plays with passion, both as a shooter and as a coach.
A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL…!
There would be no closure of the sports career, remembering those years of sacrifice, in the face of the reprisals of the communist system. But also, the years of work, to ensure a living in the third age. The overthrow of the communist dictatorship and the victory of Democracy was the light that restored his dignity and pride, to keep alive the family legacy, which history had denied him for five decades. I do not ask that he benefit through his biography, office and party duties, but his personality itself, where modesty was what characterizes him until his retirement. Shkodra owed this civic and traditional family a chair, which was the minimum for the “rehabilitation” of a pinjolli of Bushatllinje.
And again, Skenderi prefers not to be separated from sports.
In the Municipality, where the mayor was elected Mr. Filip Guraziu, Skendera approached the post of Olympic President for the region of Shkodra. In the reorganization of sports, in addition to the “Vllaznia” Club, the sports office near the Municipality, would have a major role in the development of the smooth running of sports activities, not forgetting the re-evaluation of Shkodra’s sports figures, who were left under the dust of oblivion, by the system dictatorial, who had made a valuable contribution, since the establishment of the “Vllaznia” Sports Society, the first society in our country (February 1919), in the national championships, in the years of the Bird Monarchy and in the years after the end of the War , some of these sportsmen were imprisoned, shot, exiled and not a few of them escaped abroad.
There in the sports office, together with the sports inspector, the late Mehdi Milla, a very respected sports figure in Shkodër, the persecuted sports journalists, such as Rifat Uruçi and historians, approached to prepare the true sports history of this city. , with an excellent history, in addition to art and culture, also in sports. The commemoration of such anniversaries as the 70th anniversary of the first cycling circle in Albania (1925-1995), where participants from the Albanian diaspora were also invited, an activity that was also written about by the Balkan and European press.
Or the 100th anniversary of the first national equestrian competition in Shkodër, which paved the way for the organization of equestrian activities on a national scale, or the return of water festivals in Shirokë, with the participation of veteran swimmers from all sports clubs. But Skenderi himself, would continue to be an athlete in national and international activities, with the veterans of athletics. In the Balkan championship of veterans, in Sofia, in 1994, for the ages of 50-55, he took first place, in the shot put, and he also achieved this success in the World Athletics Championship, in 1995, in the USA- is.
THE MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE, JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH AND THE EXCHANGE OF LETTERS WITH THE FORMER ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER, AND THE PRESIDENT OF ‘MILAN’, SILVIO BERLUSCONI.
The first visit of the President of the International Olympic Committee to Albania (at the invitation of the former President Mr. Sali Berisha) aroused a lot of interest and in the meetings that were scheduled, Mr. JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH, would reserve a reception for the delegation of the Regional Olympic Committee of Shkodra, headed by Mr. Skender Bushati. On March 29, 1995. Mr. Samaranch was present at the National Stadium “Qemal Stafa”, where the match between the national team of Albania and the national team of Moldova was taking place, accompanied by former President Sali Berisha.
After the end of the first half, in one of the stadium premises, Mr. Skender Bushati, I present to Mr. Samaranch, the album with photos and facts, of the first cycling circle of Albania, developed in 1925, under the organization of Palok Nika, a personality of Albanian sports.
In this meeting, Mr. Besnik Dizdari, former editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Sporti Shqiptar”, who echoed this activity, the first for an amateur in the Balkans, in the prestigious magazine “Le monde, de cyclist”, at the request of the FIAC vice-president, Agostino Omini. Mr. Sanmaranch, I really appreciate this gift and thanked Mr. Skender Bushati, for the care and commitment, as the regional Olympic Committee, in the organization of such commemorative sports activities, which the communist dictatorship had left in oblivion.
For the time that Skenderi worked in this position, it remains as a relic and exchange letter with Mr. SILVIO BERLUSCONI, former Prime Minister of Italy and former President of the Football Club. “Milan”.
The sports newspaper, “Vllaznimi Sportiv”, which published several issues by the sports journalists of Shkodra, such as: Rifat Uruçi, Namik Mehmeti, Gaspë Marku, etc., in 1992, in one of its issues, also published a letter by Skënder Bushati, addressed to Mr. Berlusconi, through Mr. Mark Berisha, a former football player of “Vllaznia” in the first years after the war and who lived in the diaspora, a friend of the Italian Prime Minister and Mr. Sali Berisha.
Skenderi, on behalf of the Regional Olympic Committee of Shkodra, congratulated and congratulated them on the successes achieved by the Football Club “Milan” in Italy and in Europe, where in Shkodra, “Milan” had many sympathizers. On his return to Shkodër, Mr. Mark Berisha brought Skendera special thanks through this letter.
Mr. Skender Fusha
President of the Shkodër Olympic Committee, Albania
Dear Mr. President,
I thank you for the beautiful letter you sent me the last few days, through Mr. Mark Berisha, as well as congratulations to “Milan”, champion of Italy. That’s it, I also wish you the best for “Vllaznina”, champion of Albania
I know very well what are the difficulties and current conditions of the Albanian people and how much the Albanian soul suffers from these. But, with the gaining of freedom, everything will improve very soon, if there will be a will and a spirit of optimism, as I wish with all my heart.
I, like you, believe in the development of ties between “Milan” and “Vllaznia”, moreover, between Albania and Italy, I am sure that the future will create more opportunities for meetings and cooperation.
With the warmest greetings
Milan, October 14, 1992.
This letter of greeting was delivered to Skënder, by Mr. Mark Berisha himself, in a ceremony organized by Mr. Filip Guraziu, former mayor of the Municipality, in the presence of football players and managers of the football teams of the “Vllaznia” Sports Club. But the letter of Mr. Berlusconi, for Skenderi, was also accompanied by a symbolic gift: “a wristwatch, for the friends of Milan”. Memorie.al