North Macedonia, located in Southeastern Europe, made its first appearance in international sports after the country broke away from Yugoslavia. After gaining independence, teams in various disciplines were created in the country, and many sports became popular in the country.
This article offers a brief overview of the 5 most popular sports in North Macedonia.
Football in North Macedonia
No wonder football is the most popular sports in North Macedonia. The Macedonian Football Federation manages the national team. When the country was under the control of the Yugoslav team, the football team was not allowed to participate in official events and was limited to exhibition matches against other Yugoslav republics.
When Macedonia broke away from Yugoslavia, the team began to compete internationally. The federation became a member of FIFA and UEFA in 1994, and the team played its first international match against Slovenia in October 1993. As a result, Macedonia won the match, and later beat Estonia as well.
The first major tournament in which the team took part was the Euro 1996 qualifying round, where it finished fourth in the group. The team also participated in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers and finished fourth in the group.
The team continued to compete in the UEFA and FIFA qualifying rounds but failed to qualify until 2020 when it qualified for the EURO Cup due in 2021. It was the first major tournament in North Macedonian football history.
North Macedonia is also in the UEFA Nations League Third Division after winning League Group D in the first edition of the UEFA Nations League.
Handball in North Macedonia
Handball is also most popular sports in North Macedonia. The men’s handball team was formed when the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. In 1991, he was represented only in the Yugoslav national team. Although the team was established, it did not participate in international events until 1996.
The team participated in Euro 1996 and since then regularly participates in the qualifiers. He has competed in the European Championships six times to date, of which his most notable performance was in 2012 when he finished 5th.th place. The team has also competed in the World Championships 7 times and had the most success in 2015 when they finished 9th.th place.
The team also played twice in the Olympic qualifications, in 2012 and 2016, where they finished 3rd.rd and 4th place respectively. However, the team failed to finish second or first and thus could not compete in the Olympics.
The women’s handball team first competed at the World Championships in 1997, where it finished 7th.th place and which is also the team’s most notable achievement in the world to date. He also competed five times at the European Championships, and his most notable achievement was 7th position in 2008. In the same year, Macedonia hosted the European Women’s Handball Championship.
Handball clubs in North Macedonia have also achieved moderate success in European competitions. His club RK Vardar became the champion of the EHF in 2017 and 2019.
Basketball in North Macedonia
Basketball is the third most popular sports in North Macedonia. The sport is administered by the Basketball Federation of North Macedonia, which was established in 1992 and joined FIBA a year later.
The national basketball team played its first international match against Estonia in 1993. Previously, she was a member of the Yugoslav national basketball team. The team has competed in the EuroBasket five times and to date its most notable performance was in 2011 when it finished fourth. To date, the team has failed to qualify for the Olympics or the FIBA World Championship.
Macedonian players, who was also the first player in the NBA, was Pero Antic, who moved to the Atlanta Hawks. He has also been the captain of the national basketball team throughout his career and is currently the President of the North Macedonia Basketball Federation.
Swimming in North Macedonia
Swimming is also most popular sports in North Macedonia. As a professional sport, it is still considered a minor discipline but has gained popularity in recent years.
One of the brightest swimming events is the Ohrid Swimming Marathon, which is held annually in the summer on Lake Ohrid. It is part of the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix, the FINA Professional Swimming Marathon. The 30 km Ohrid Swimming Marathon is one of the top 100 open water swims in the world. Some of the best swimmers from North Macedonia take part in the event.
Skiing in North Macedonia
While summer is good for swimming, skiing is a popular activity as winter sports centers abound with skiers during the winter months.
North Macedonia also competes in the Winter Olympics and many skiers have represented the country in various Olympic tournaments so it also consider as most popular sports in North Macedonia. Among them are, among others, Ivan Ivchevska, Georgi Markovski and Antonio Ristevski.