Croatia 2013 – The Power Of Positive Thinking
Sunday, March 31 2013 @ 10:03 am ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
The first thing that leaps to mind when Josip Kravar, president of the newly formed Association of Australian Football of Croatia (AAF), speaks is his positivism. “AAF is taking big steps now and we are willing to be one of leading countries in Aussie Rules in Europe, [to] spread our magnificent sport, young people, [and] spread our community. Above all, enjoy playing Aussie Rules.”
It is difficult to argue with his enthusiasm, however, when the list of recent Croatian footy achievements is truly analysed. Josip and his crew have been very busy people since last season and 2013 could very well see a very positive and exciting year.
Over-arching the achievements to date is the new name of the association. As Josip says, “In 2013 we founded the Association of Australian Football of Croatia (AAF) [in] what was a big legal step for us now. Under AAF we have 3 clubs, Zagreb Hawks, Zapruđe Giants and Velika Gorica Bombers.” With this new identity locked away, attention could turn to the development of the game in other areas.
Most notable of these developments is the link with the University of Zagreb. Josip explains that, “The AAF in 2013 signed an agreement with the Sport Faculty from University of Zagreb. With this agreement we gained [the] opportunity to build our first oval in Croatia. We are now starting a project of finding sponsors for this project and hopefully we will play our first 18 [per] side games in 2013.”
This development alone marks an enormous step forward in Croatian footy, but the progress doesn’t stop there.
In a move reminiscent of the developments in Austrian footy (see previous article, An Avalanche of Austrian Talent), the AAF has linked heavily with the University of Zagreb to develop the game on a number of fronts.
According to Josip, “In April 2013 we have Academic Cup- [the] University of Oxford Aussie Rules football club will play with the newly founded "pilot project" club Academic [team] Zagreb. The university provided support so we have lectures across faculties and we [have] raised new players from University that will play against University of Oxford.”
“This is a new start for us because now Australian football will be included in faculties across the University as option for every student to play.”
With a new name, facilities, grounds and even player markets being unearthed, Josip and his team could be excused for relaxing and leaving things at that. But that is not the case, as they have also sought to strengthen their on field performances and off field image with some key signings.
Josip continues the story. “In 2013 Richmond ruckman Ivan Marić became Croatian national team Ambassador in Australia. He will help [the Croatian] Knights to go to the IC cup 2014 (see previous article Ivan Marić joins the Croatian Knights as Ambassador). The next news is that Ciaran O'Hara, ex Irish coach, is now Croatian national team coach. He will be coaching the team [in preparation] for the European Championship in Dublin.”
In preparation for the upcoming season, both at national and international level, the Croatian national team will play their Spring Cup with a match against the North London Lions.
Josip Kravar and the entire AAF should be extremely proud of their efforts to transform their national competition. In an tremendous show of positive thinking they have unflinchingly attacked every area of the game in their country, leaving few stones unturned, to develop a game and brand which may yet become the envy of other Australian Rules playing countries across Europe.
It will be exciting to see how things pan out in 2013 for Croatian footy as they aim to impress Europe, and then…the world.