Božidar Đurković, Secretary General of the Serbian Handball Federation, talks to ehf-euro.com on the afternoon of the 10th Men’s EHF European Championship.
ehf-euro.com: EHF EURO 2012 is coming to an end in Belgrade, but it has taken hold of Serbia, not least in the host cities of Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and Vršac. How do you feel the organisation has been of the tournament across Serbia?
Božidar Đurković: I am personally very satisfied with the organisation across Serbia.
Generally, all four cities were full with a lot of people from across Europe coming to Serbia - especially in Niš.
Our job was very hard - we had 1,200 volunteers and more than 500 professionals working on EHF EURO 2012 throughout all four cities. It was really one big challenge for us and I think that in all the cities the participating countries are satisfied with our organisation.
We’ve had really big support form our authorities; the Government, Sports Ministry and local Government which has been crucial.
Overall, I am very satisfied and it is also important for us that the EHF is satisfied too.
ehf-euro.com: It is always better that the host nation of a tournament stays in the hunt for the title, but did Serbia’s performance at EHF EURO 2012 surprise you?
Božidar Đurković: Of course reaching the final is a big surprise as in the last three or four World Championships and EHF EUROs we have not performed as well as we have here.
It is obvious that we have a large amount of people supporting us; 20,000 in the semi-final and another 20,000 in the final, which is another really big surprise, but this is a great result for future of handball in Serbia.
ehf-euro.com: You mention the future of Serbian handball. Lots of young people have been watching this tournament on television and in the arenas – what legacy will EHF EURO 2012 bring to Serbian handball?
Božidar Đurković: Well, Serbia is very strong in all collective sports; volleyball, water polo, basketball and in handball. Our experience from EHF EURO 2012 will also help us for the 2013 World Championships.
We always have a friendly rivalry between all of our sports, but EHF EURO 2012 is very important because we have 1,000s of new children being introduced to handball. This is, for us, is the number one legacy of EHF EURO 2012.
ehf-euro.com: According to TV figures half of Serbia watched the semi-final against Croatia on Friday (27 January), how will you keep this interest alive in the sport?
Božidar Đurković: The Serbian handball team are all top-level players, our top players play at the best clubs in Europe and little Serbian children now have new idols - Stanic, Illic, Nickcevic, Vujin.
This is a really big plus for us because it is better for us that children go into sports like handball alongside water polo and volleyball, for example and are not out on the street – this is the social element of handball.
ehf-euro.com: What memories will you take personally from EHF EURO 2012 and in your official position?
Božidar Đurković: It doesn’t matter what happens in the final today as, for us, this is not important. Of course we would like to win the gold, but a silver medal is a big success and after the match whatever happens we will go and celebrate with our national team players, with our fans and with our volunteers; the whole of the organisation.