Balkans, specifically countries of ex-Yugoslavia are known to have animosity towards each other that came out of the wars in the 90s.
This animosity was shown many times during recent years and in the last 10 months it has reached its peak during the commemoration of 20th anniversaries of different war events. In that kind of atmosphere, many nationalistic attacks happened recently in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country shared by Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.
However, a moment of hope was shown today – kids don’t care about hate.
Bosnian U16 basketball team won the European Championship, a competition held in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Since Lithuania is to far away from Bosnia, Bosnian team didn’t have support from its fan groups in the final game against the host, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have any support.
Serbian and Montenegrin players start the game with 'Bosna! Bosna!' chants, get booed immediately by the crowd. #FIBAU16Europe
— Simonas Baranauskas (@LithuaniaBasket) August 16, 2015
Serbian and Montenegrin players came to the stands and when the referee signaled the game to begin, so did they begin chanting “Bosnia, Bosnia”.
Their support continued during the game and after the final whistle and dramatic Bosnian victory by two points (85:83) they came down to the field celebrating the victory as if the golden medal will be shining from their chests to.
VIDEO: Montenegrin and Serbian players celebrating after a Lithuanian player missed a free throw at the end of the game
In difficult times for ex-Yugoslav republics, a group of 16-year-old teenagers did more to ease the tensions and spread love/understanding than all of the regional politicians combined.
It’s a perfect example of how these kids feel – they want their battles to take place on the basketball field, not on the front lines of war
Furthermore, Bosnian victory means much more considering the fact that the team is made out of all three national groups in the country. In semifinal game, a Bosnian Serb Njegoš Sikiraš was crucial in helping the team to defeat Spain. In final game, a Bosniak Džanan Musa blossomed. All of that while the team was lead by a talented Bosnian Croat coach Josip Pandža.
“I’m speechless. We are all here, celebrating. Croats, Serbs and Montenegrins are celebrating with us”, said coach Pandža after the game.
Bosnia almost wasn’t allowed to play the final game
While the Bosnian politicians are among the best paid in Europe, the final game of the U16 national team came into question as Basketball Association didn’t have enough money to pay a participation fee for Eurobasket.
Just minutes after the semifinal victory, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) sent a message to the Bosnians – if you don’t pay 10.000 euros, you’re out of the championship. Fortunately, money was found and the teenagers did their part on the field.
Sports in Bosnia is very poorly supported by the government, and the fact that it has proven to be a major force in spreading love and tolerance doesn’t bother corrupted politicians too much.
— Nedad Memić (@NedadMemic) August 16, 2015
It is worth mentioning that this is a second gold medal for this team in less than 20 days. They have recently won at the Youth Olympic Games in Georgia.