To her own account, Amela Lolić has been in sports for as long as she remembers. Before the war he was actively involved in handball at the Borac Travnik Club and after the war started working in sports. For 12 years, she served as the Secretary of the Sports Federation of the Central Bosnia Canton, chairperson of the Sports Federation of the Travnik Municipality, president of the Tabel Tenis Federation of the Central Bosnia Canton. We discussed sports in Travnik and in general.
What is the situation like with sport in Travnik?
The status of sports in Travnik is very bad. We have some 20 active clubs in Travnik. Of the BAM 244,000 allocated by the Travnik Municipality from the sports budget, BAM 120,000 go to the Travnik Football Club. Remaining funds are then allocated to sports associations, but most are again football clubs active in in all local communities in Travnik and we must admit that football is well developed.
But what Travnik once had is the tradition; we were once champions, as the Handball Club Borac Travnik. Today, the club is a sideliner in events. Since Travnik doesn’t have a sports hall, the Handball Club Borac has its training process at the Turkish Elementary School in Turbe, which makes the work of the club difficult.
We have a good story in Travnik, with the Basketball Club Travnik, which has been organising an international tournament Travnik with Love for 11 years now. It is a youth and junior tournament, those gathered around the Travnik Basketball Club that have been working with great enthusiasm and desire to improve basketball in the Travnik Municipality. In the past year or two, the Basketball Club Travnik has also a women’s team, which is good, because apart from this basketball team, Travnik only has the Women’s Football Club Rosa Brandis.
Travnik was once known for its Table Tennis Club Borac, once in premier league in former Yugoslavia and with an outstanding generation of women tennis players. Today, unfortunately, we do not have a men’s or women’s team.
In Travnik, we have four judo clubs. Larisa Cerić comes from here, from the Judo Club Travnik. She’s one of our most successful athletes, an Olympic athlete and Travnik and its people are proud of Larisa and her successes. I hope that we will have some new Larisa in a foreseeable future.
How helpful or unhelpful is the political situation for sport in Travnik?
The fact is, as I’ve said, that the Football Club Travnik gets the most funds from the budget. This goes to show that this club has close ties with politics and that politics is in charge when it comes to sport. What we’ve been trying for years at the level of the Travnik Municipality, yet did not succeed, is to have the Sports Federation of the Travnik Municipality allocating these funds together with its affiliated members. Unfortunately we did not succeed. That is why I believe the state of sport today is as it is. As long as professionals are kept out of the resource allocation, we certainly won’t have any progress. I also respect the work of departments and the Travnik Municipality and its staff, but they come from some other ranks of life, they are not working in sports, they never did any sports and it’s impossible that they understand the problems in sport.
What would you do if you had the power to correct this situation?
The first thing I’d do if I had the power is to invite all workers in sports in the Travnik Municipality so we sit together and develop a sports strategy in the Travnik Municipality. This strategy must cover two Olympic cycles and only then can we talk about some improvement. Another thing that would follow this sport strategy would be the financing sports in the Travnik Municipality. Because without the funds there is certainly no success. We can talk about enthusiasm, commitment, but without adequate training process, adequate conditions for the training process, nutrition, and finally approved supplements, there is no success in sports.
These are the two things I would do first – so, the strategy, and it has to be followed by financing and the ways of funding, and there are several ways to that. And also, creating infrastructure in the Travnik Municipality.
How to keep youth in BiH?
I’m not pessimistic but I do not see a quick and favourable solution. Young people are dissatisfied. Take for example that Travnik is a city that has no cinema, which doesn’t have a sports hall, and accordingly no cultural or sports events. Although I have to point out that the cultural aspect in Travnik has lately been greatly improved thanks to some new, young people coming on stage. That must be commended.
But I still don’t think it’s enough for young people to stay here, neither culture nor sport. Young people here have no employment opportunities above all, or to be adequately paid for their work. Without a more favourable economic environment, we stand no chance not only in Travnik, but elsewhere to keep their youth.
They will normally look for their future prospects and prosperity in the EU countries that offer so much to our young people, and ultimately offer them a certain security that we and those who are employed and unemployed in BiH unfortunately do not have. We see constantly our politicians bickering as the elections are nearing, they stir the ethnic tensions, and create more and more walls among the youth, and that’s just sad. You see that thanks to politics, so much talk about that school in Jajce, where young people refuse divisions, but politicians do as it suits them.