Friday Focus – The EHF President Marijke Fleuren and EHF Development and Education Manager visited Serbia this week, 22nd – 24th, alongside with Antonio Antonov, EHF Development Projects member and South East Europe coordinator.

Their visit took them to different parts of Serbia, where they listened and discussed the progress and challenges this region have made and has to come. Norman has sent us a report, describing the different meetings and discussions that were held during this 2 day visit.

2015 Serbia visit

The first day took them to Hockey Club Bask, where they met with the Belgrade Hockey Federation. Here a meeting was held where the barriers to hockey growth in Belgrade were discussed: lack of facilities and trainers. The meeting was a successful trade off of ideas, where the National Hockey Committee agreed to create a business and growth plan for hockey across Serbia, so that all provinces and regions can work together towards a common goal. This will also allow them to focus and have a better way of judging their own performance and success. This planis expected to be finished by March 2016. The EHF is happy to support this with all our available expertise in the spirit of sharing knowledge and furthering development.

2015 Serbia visit

The second meeting of the day took the to the offices of the Serbian National Olympic Committee where they were greeted by Mr Djordje Visacki Secretary General OC of Serbia and Mr Uros Zekovic Assistant Minister Ministry of Youth and Sport. Mr Visacki explained that Serbian NOC’s limited funds were fully committed to focus on medals. He understood that the development of grass root sports was a vital component and to boost clubs and smaller sports was a challenge.

EHF President explained the importance of clubs to the development of sport for life especially team sports like hockey. Marijke stressed that hockey prided itself on being a family sport, a sport for all, able and disabled and a sport that stresses respect for each other. We explained our aim to grow the base of hockey in Serbia through the 3 Ps approach

Planning – build up and agree a business plan for our sport across Serbia
People – find key people to deliver it and ensure they receive relevant training to be able to deliver the plan
Places – build new facilities for H5s and H11s so children have places to play

As the meetings in Belgrade drew to a close, the President and Norman headed to Novi Sad, who were the National women’s champions in 2015 with only 15 female players! They were duly commended for their performance, but the need for a development plan here was also stressed. Their facility is greatly located but a new carpet is needed for their main pitch. The EHF will endeavour to help find a suitable second hand carpet to aid in their growth.

2015 Serbia visit

Next stop on this whirlwind tour was Subotica. A traning session for U16 boys was taking place, and several hockey veterans were present, reminiscing about their excellent performance in 1979. After practice was concluded, a meeting was held with the young players and their parents. The boys were keen to have more competitions and a better facility where foreign visiting teams could come and festivals and exchanges could be held. It was very encouraging to see young people so engaged with hockey, which they explained allowed them not only an opportunity to participate in sport, but also travel, new friendships and new experiences.

2015 Serbia visit

The second day began with a trip to a nearby sports park, where Subotica HC hope to build a full size pitch. Meetings were later held with members of the Council for Sport, Youth and Tourism. Subotica is a thriving sports city, home to 127 sports clubs and a population of around 100,000. The EHF President was very impressed with the enthusiasm and work going on, and once again offered EHF’s support.

Interviews with the TV and press followed again with a clear message of working together to get a new larger pitch in Subotica.

After a full two day’s of meetings and discussions, the visit drew to a close. EHF would like to sincerely thank everyone in Serbian Hockey for their warm welcome and hospitality.
Special thanks to the EHF Regional Coordinator Antonio Antonov for his support and guidance throughout the visit.

Source: EHF