From refugee to world champion: Kosovar German footballer Fatmire Bajramaj

Fatmire Bajramaj is one of Germany’s most successful female footballers. Having escaped from the Kosovo during her childhood, she and her family settled in North Rhine-Westphalia. “Lira”, as she calls herself, started to play football secretly against her father’s will, who found football was just for men. But after watching her first official match, he supported her throughout. From the age of 17 she has played for the national team.

With only 22 years old, Bajramaj has already published an autobiography about her childhood in the Kosovo, the intensifying conflict and asylum seeking in Germany. She claims that sports helped her integrate and hopes that her book will inspire girls from ethnic minority backgrounds to see what they can achieve. Her Kosovar roots are important to her, as is living out her Muslim faith. She practices a moderate Islam; she prays, does not eat pork, but neither practices Ramadan — because she could not afford it as a sportswoman. She does not wear a headscarf and likes putting on a girlie image, contrasting that of female footballers, when she wears make-up on the pitch or shoots a goal at a TV show in high heels. The head of the German Football Association, Theo Zwanziger, calls her a shining example of successful integration.