EUROFARM PELISTER - Bitola is a town where the fans understand everything about the game of handball

AUTHOR'S STORY: ''We live for Pelister. We have been rooting for our club since childhood. Green is our colour. Nothing can change or diminish our love for Pelister''

Author's story - Eurofarm Pelister

There is no player or coach who will not confirm to you that “handball is the most difficult to play in Bitola”. Not because the stands there are usually full, there is this frenetic cheering, we could say a South American atmosphere, many flags, scarves and songs, and pressure from all sides - but because even the ordinary spectator in Bitola knows the game of handball very well, and knows all the “secrets” and all “handball tricks”. It is hard to fool someone – either you know handball or you don’t.

They are there not only on the matches but also in the training sessions. They know all the actions and how to recognize when someone is better, but of course also to be critical of their players. “Ckembari” are an indispensable part of Pelister, from Bitola as a town. For Bitola, handball is everything. It is a religion, a passion, a life, and a sport by which many recognize the city.

“Pelister is our sanctity, our relic. We live for Pelister. We have been rooting for our club since childhood. Green is our colour. Nothing can change or diminish our love for Pelister. And when it is difficult, we are in the stands. We may be few, but how much we are - that much we are”, says Nikola, one of the most loyal Bitola fans.

The group was founded in 1985 when a caravan of 21 buses travelled to support RK Pelister, playing against Partizan Bjelovar in a handball relegation play-offs match. At that time they used the name BMCM - Bitolcani, Drinkers, Ckembari, Macedonians, later shortened to just Ckembari. Their cheering is always a sign if a coach or player will quickly become their favourite, and will also receive the support of the club management. No one is forgiven when it comes to handball and Pelister. Either you know how to play handball, or you don’t.

Whoever played in the “Boro Curlevski” hall in Bitola knows the magic of the handball, of those at the stands, of the fans who greet and cheer you while you walk around the town or drink your morning or afternoon coffee. To their catchy slogans, songs and dedication, at least when it comes to Pelister.

Perhaps they are waiting too long for the return of the title to the town, since 2005 when they last rejoiced at the championship trophy in the Macedonian championship. Their SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 appearance in Zadar in September 2022 is the club’s biggest success in the regional competition. This was also an announcement of a return to the road that can bring them back to the top.

Despite the difficult times in the past, the Ckembari never gave up on the club, and when it was most difficult and when it was pure surviving, they were always the “eighth player”. They never turned their backs on their club. They were also part of the management, they helped it survive because the love for the club is greater than anything else. The fans also had a president who led the club, and all in order for it to live, survive and return to its old and glorious ways.

“In the past, more people travelled to away matches, but now the situation is different. The most important thing is that the handball players have support in Bitola. It is a field where we want to show our power and for the handball players to feel our positive energy”, says Nikola.

This season is another in the series of rivalry between Bitola and Skopje, between Eurofarm Pelister and Vardar. It is possible that the two clubs will play each other in the quarter-finals of the SEHA - Gazprom League, and at the end of the month, the first of the two decisive duels in the domestic championship.

As much as there will be rivalry on the field, it will be as much and even greater at the stands.