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Riga Kallaba: Playing for Kosovo, Thriving in Chicago’s Soccer Scene


In the bustling heart of Chicago, a young sporting sensation is making waves that extend far beyond the field. Meet Riga Kallaba, a second-generation Albanian-American who calls the Windy City home. At just 15 years old, she has already carved out a name for herself in the world of football, embodying a narrative of unyielding determination, personal sacrifices, and unwavering family support.

Riga Kallaba isn’t your average teenager; she’s a football prodigy. She proudly sports the jerseys of several teams, including the ECNL Club, Illinois State Team, Midwest Regional Team, Semi Pro Team, and Kosovo’s national football squad. Her passion for the beautiful game knows no bounds, and her commitment has propelled her into the limelight of American football.

As she deftly juggles her life both on and off the pitch, Riga attributes much of her success to her parents, who have played a crucial role in her journey:

“My parents have made countless sacrifices and worked tirelessly to provide my family with opportunities for a brighter future. They’ve consistently emphasized the importance of education, health, and moral values for me and my sisters. This has instilled in me an unwavering commitment to achieving my goals, pushing my physical and mental limits, even when exhaustion looms.”

Her daily routine is anything but ordinary. It involves grueling commutes for football practice, study sessions on the move, and globe-trotting adventures for high-stakes matches. Yet, her dedication to excelling both academically and athletically remains unshakable:

“I understand that both my studies and my dedication to football are investments in my future.”

Reflecting on her incredible journey, Riga underscores the values of hard work, sacrifice, and discipline. She’s a dreamer who transforms her aspirations into tangible accomplishments. She acknowledges the profound support of her family, recognizing their unwavering commitment and love as the foundation of her success:

“I consistently set goals for myself and pour my entire being into every endeavor. My family means the world to me, and their support has propelled me to the pinnacle of my achievements thus far.”

One of the most compelling aspects of Riga’s story is her unwavering determination. Surrendering has never been an option; her mindset reverberates with the belief that she can overcome any obstacle:

“The very notion of surrender has never crossed my mind. I was raised with the ethos that, with hard work and an unyielding spirit, I can conquer the loftiest summits of life.”

Riga Kallaba has transcended her role as a football sensation to become a symbol of pride and inspiration for the Albanian-American community. Her accomplishments have not only kindled hope within her community but have also cemented her status as the first American player, regardless of gender, to represent Kosovo’s national football team. The resounding global support fuels her determination to continue being a beacon of hope:

“I’m deeply moved by the warmth of your words, and it’s both an honor and a source of immense pride for me to be the torchbearer for the Albanian community worldwide. The distinction of being the first football player from the United States to don Kosovo’s national team colors is a privilege that fills me with immense pride. The outpouring of support from across the globe is a potent motivator, urging me onward. I wear the Albanian badge with honor and am committed to raising the Kosovar flag ever higher.”

As she peers into the future, Riga’s primary goal is to sculpt the finest version of herself, whether in academics or on the football pitch. She aspires to acquire a top-notch education while simultaneously pursuing a flourishing professional football career:

“My blueprint revolves around carving out the optimal version of myself, both academically and athletically. I yearn for a superior education and nurture lofty ambitions for a thriving professional football career.”

For those who aspire to tread a similar path, Riga imparts sage advice:

“Nurture unwavering faith in yourself, work diligently, and seize every opportunity to refine your craft.”

And when she seeks solace in inspiration, she turns to her grandfather, Sevdai Thaqi, whose monumental contributions to Kosovo and the Albanian community serve as a guiding light:

“My grandfather, Sevdai Thaqi, has etched indelible contributions into the annals of Kosovo and the Albanian community. His unwavering ardor for athletics endures even at the age of 78, an irrefutable testament to his dedication and fervor. They’re not just my sources of inspiration; I’m profoundly honored to tread the path they’ve blazed, to continue representing Kosovo.”

Beyond football, Riga relishes fitness, dance, song, and the culinary arts. She’s an insatiable seeker of knowledge and delights in the thrill of exploring uncharted territories./Dielli

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