Being a professional takes a lot of work, but the results are always rewarding. During the SALT project, which took place in Struga, we talked to FK Pelister team captain – Borche Manevski. As it turned out, playing football had more in common with the ideas of the event than we expected.
Anna Marek: We are here for a project whose main aims are to encourage more young people to be active. When you were their age, how did you try to stay healthy?
Borche Manevski: We all know that playing sports is a very important part of being healthy. This is something I do professionally, so it has helped me a lot in my life. It is extremely crucial to introduce activities in your everyday life. It’s good to be active, to do more sports like volleyball, handball, tennis and much more. I think playing sports may be easier for young people, but they need the enthusiasm to get started. I can also see it in my team, where a large part of our squad is young players, 18, 19 years old. They are playing in the first team. So, to be healthy, you need what everyone is talking about: a proper diet and playing sports.
How did it look in your life that you turned this passion into something that you do professionally today?
My adventure began, of course, in my childhood, when I played football. I remember being maybe ten years old kicking a ball. However, I had to wait a little longer to be noticed. My professional career started at the age of 18. Since then, I have played for the national team, and I managed to play outside Macedonia, for example, in Poland, Serbia, Malta, and Thailand. I am very happy that I could use this time to see more countries and cultures that can be seen there.
This is great because we also have an international company here. What have you learned from traveling and being with people from other countries?
I learned that each country is different and has a different culture, and this is something that we should appreciate because it makes us create one whole, even though we are non-identical. Admittedly, some cultures are similar, such as Serbia and Macedonia, which made it easy for me to find myself on the football team in the first one. You can get to know life in another country, for example through food. In Thailand, there is no such thing as sitting in a restaurant and drinking coffee. You have to take it out. Here in the Balkans, I go to a restaurant to have a coffee on the spot. I also notice that now we live in slightly different conditions, surrounded by the Internet. Lots of people are sitting on their phones, and communication is not what it is now. That is why it is so important to stop looking at the phone and observe individual cultures.
You have not only played in different countries, but also with people of many nationalities. What do you think about working with these people?
It was a very interesting experience that taught me a lot. Even when playing with different people, we have a common goal: to win the game. The biggest barrier, of course, is the language. For example, it was difficult for me to find myself in Thailand. In Poland, on the other hand, I felt quite comfortable because we have a lot of common words. And even if not, the situational context has helped me get out of the situation. However, once this language limit is overcome, many goals can be achieved.
Playing professionally requires a lot from athletes. What kind of daily routines do you have?
Each player has certain routines, and it depends on each individual what they are. Drinking my morning coffee helps me a lot. I know it’s not good, but you have to remember also to take care of what’s going on in your head. I also eat a light breakfast in the morning, which helps me work better later during training. Before and during the season, you should also give up alcohol and drinks that do not help anything, such as Coca-Cola. After the season, of course, a small reward is due. However, these little steps, which may not work much when looked at every day, allow you to achieve better results in the end.
These small steps also require teamwork. During the SALT project that we are doing in Struga, we learn how to make this cooperation even more productive. Do you have any advice on how to do it?
It is essential in the team that everyone is together. It doesn’t matter if they’ve achieved victory or defeat has struck them. The team must be together. In our team, I also suppose that in any other, a leadership position is essential. This is a person who has to drag the entire team behind him. He needs to know how to play so that the whole team will follow him. Others must also be able to listen to the leader so that everyone will respect him. Thanks to this, everyone can help each other and pursue the set goals.
However, playing for the same team for many years can be difficult and exhausting at times. You have been playing football for many years. Are you still happy while doing it?
We’ve just started a new season, so the excitement is high, and it’s natural to want more and more. I know that I am 36 years old, so I think that I would like to play for a while, maybe a year or two, and then try my hand at a different field but still related to football. Maybe a coach, perhaps a manager. We’ll see.