It was October 30, 1925 when the first Albanian sports newspaper appeared in Scutari and its title “Gazeta e Sportit” was a clear reminder of the already famous Italian newspaper “La Gazzetta dello Sport”, wishing for a “Western communion”. In this way, Balkan sports journalism took its first steps. To celebrate this event, the ninth edition and tenth anniversary of the Anton Mazreku Prize was held on November 5, 2005 at the Sheraton Hotel in Tirana. This prize was established ten years ago as an award for the 55 journalists and writers who worked with professionalism and competence for Albania’s enthusiastic sports citizens. Turning the clocks back to October 30 1925, the first page of the “Gazeta e Sportit” featured an article by a 17-year-old boy called Anton Mazreku. September 1, 1938 was the first day of Radio Tirana and Mazreku provided the first live radio commentary on the football match Tirana-Iraklis Kavala which Tirana won 7-0, thus contributing to the growth of Albanian journalism throughout Europe. The picture below shows Mazreku at the National Stadium “Qemal Stafa” during a radio commentary in 1945. At the first Anton Mazreku Prize in 1994, the Italian industrialist Silvano Pedrollo, president of the “Pedrollo S.p.A.” company from San Bonifazio-Verona, provided generous support to the Albanian free press by giving a huge amount of paper to national newspapers. Silvano Pedrollo, Ambassador of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and “Cavaliere al Merito della Republica Italiana” (Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic), an honorary title awarded by the Italian government, became the President of the Mazreku Prize. In 2002 the Anton Mazreku Prize became an international award and some non-Albanian journalists have won it; among them Luigi Mengoni, an Italian journalist who has been writing about Albanian athletics for almost fifty years and Novak Jovanovic, a Montenegrin journalist who, among other works, wrote a book about sports events in Albania. Besides many Albanian sports journalists, at the ninth edition of the Prize there were also the President of the Anton Mazreku Prize, the ambassador Silvano Pedrollo; the Albanian Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports, Neritan Alibali; the unforgettable Anton Mazreku’s daughter, Adelina Mazreku and Artan Haxhi, Mayor of Shkoder, Mazreku’s home town. Besnik Dizdari, President of the Albanian Sport Press Association (ASPA) and founder of the Prize, opened the ceremony followed by the President who declared the ninth edition winners:
• Gani Ajeti, a pioneer of radio and television in Kosovo, who has worked for fifty years in the field of sports journalism, writing also in the Albanian language. With his work, he furthered the growth of Albanian sport and received the national career award.
• Azem Brovina has worked as a sports journalist for almost forty years, writing also in the Albanian language. He is well-known as one of the greatest radio and television football commentators in Kosovo and he also won the national career award.
• Petrit Kumi, one of the greatest Albanian sports photographers of the last fifty years, was given the national career award for the distinctive and original style of his many works.
• Dhimiter Bardhi wrote many books about the history of sports in Albania and, in particular, in his town Elbasani; he received the national award for sports journalism.
• Sotir Seferaj wrote a book on one of the most important Albanian sports club, “Dinamo 1950-2000”, providing also historical and statistical details. He won the national award for sports journalism. Each winner received a medal with silver decorations and a certificate with a description of the distinctive qualities that won them the award. The ceremony closed with a gala night at the “Rozafa” restaurant in Tirana. Nowadays the Mazreku Prize enjoys great popularity as not only being the first sports press award but also it is the only yearly award for the Albanian press in general. During the last ten years, the Mazreku Prize has become a benchmark for all young Albanian journalists and a major event in Albania’s cultural life.
The winners of “Anton Mazreku 2005”, (from left) Gani Ajeti, Petrit Kumi, Silvano Pedrollo, Azem Brovina, Dimiter Bardhi, Sotir Seferaj.