Balkaniade 2012 in Mostar: Building Bridges across the Balkans

The city of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina hosted this year’s Balkaniade from 30 June to 1 July 2012. The tournament which aims to foster the youth exchange in the field of sport in the Western Balkans has been initiated by BAAP and is being supported by FairPlay-VIDC.

Youth players from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia and Austria came together in Mostar to play football, to have fun and to get in touch with each other. The tournament was organised by the Football Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Sport Association of the City of Mostar and was supported by the football club NK Vukovar, the King Baudouin Foundation and UEFA.
Hasan Sisic, president of the Sport Association of the City of Mostar: “The international tournaments of the Balkaniade are a great opportunity for the kids to get to know each other, awake the spirit of cooperation and tolerance and to realise that differences are a enrichment rather than a handicap. Sport always had a connecting character contributing to overcome differences and serving as an ambassador of friendship, peace and tolerance as well as fostering coming together and dialogue.”

Much potential
Michael Fanizadeh, project-coordinator at the VIDC added: “Mostar is a city that bears a heavy past and heads towards a challenging future. Ever since Mostar was the breadbasket and cultural, educational and economical centre of the Herzegovina. Between 1992 and 1995 the city which e.g. had the highest ratio of ethnically mixed marriages and used to be a symbol for functional multiculturalism turned into a staging ground for military conflicts and ethnic disputes. Today Mostar is still segregated into the Bosnian part on the east bank and Croatian part on the west bank of the Neretva river, existing independently of one another. However, Mostar can be considered as a test case in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a city with a quite challenging situation but also a city with a rich historical heritage and much potential that needs to be awaken not least by sportive events such as the Balkaniade that uses the connective power of sports, especially football.”

Balkan, an area with great challenges
Following the tournament a press conference took take place on 30 June. The participating athletes, coaches and the international representatives focused on how to continue the successful cooperation and implement further projects. The athletes and coaches reflected on the experiences they made at the Balkaniade youth tournament. Hasan Sisic, director of the Sports Association of the City of Mostar underlined that carrying out such an intercultural youth tournament is a great opportunity for the City of Mostar which due to its war-torn history - especially in terms of multi-ethnicity - is still struggling with big challenges. Patrick Gasser, head of UEFA's Football and Social Responsibility (FSR) stressed UEFA’s engagement in the region of the Western Balkans in the fight against nationalism and racism and talked about the intention to support future projects.

Successfull project
Michael Fanizadeh from FairPlay-VIDC expressed his satisfaction about the successfully implemented projects in the countries of the Western Balkans during the last three years. He pointed out that FairPlay-VIDC in cooperation with BAAP will continue to work with football governing bodies, local partners and FARE to expand the "Football Unites the Balkans, the Alps and the Adriatic" programme. Ivan Anastasovski from the Macedonian Football Association talked about projects in Macedonia and emphasized his excitement with hosting next year’s Balkaniade.
The Balkaniade is part of a three-year-programme (“Football Unites the Balkan, the Alps and the Adriatic”) that connects the football associations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro fostering their partnership with BAAP and FairPlay-VIDC in order to contribute to overcome nationalism and chauvinism in the Western Balkan region.

FairPlay. Different Colors. One Game.
Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation
For more information please write to: baap@vidc.org

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