Serbia is a small country but they are tough, determined and very competitive when it comes to athletics! Serbia is a nation of athletes. The most popular sports are soccer, basketball, tennis, water polo, handball and volleyball. It seems that every young person I know is involved in some sport. Their national teams have had lots of success in each of the following….
Basketball…… Serbia is known throughout the world as a basketball powerhouse… There is a saying that says “Canadians invented basketball but the Yugoslavs perfected it” Serbia boasts over 20+ former and current NBA players… including:
Vlade Divac– former LA Laker favorite
Predrag Stojakovic– three time NBA all-star and Dallas Maverick
and current greats like Vladimir Radmanovic, Darko Milicic-the 2nd pick in the 2003 NBA draft behind Lebron James and Aleksandar Pavlovic.
If you group Yugoslavias medals in with Serbia.. They have 5 Gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals in the FIBA World championship…. one of their most memorable wins was defeating the USA “NBA star filled ” team in Indianapolis in 2002. They also hold 8 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medals in the European Baskeball championships and 1 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze in Olympic competition. And who knows where Serbia could be now had it not been for them being restricted from playing for a few years during the 90’s as punishment for their involvement in the wars.
Waterpolo…..Serbia is also known throughout the world as a dominate force in waterpolo…. Serbia won the 2006 European championship,and again this year! They were the runner up in 2008. They won they won the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics and won the 2009 World Championship!
Handball…..Serbia is also a force in handball. Prior to visiting Serbia… i knew nothing about handball! I have grown to love the sport! It is very exciting and full of action. Serbia has won two bronze medals in the World Handball Championships and one silver in this years European Championship and a bronze in years past.
Volleyball….. Serbia is also one of the top world players in volleyball. They won the bronze in the 2007 European Championship and the gold in 2011! They will be a force for many years to come!!
Tennis……Tennis, tennis, tennis….. I bet you have never heard of Novak Djokovic! :)… He is the #1 tennis player in the world and a Serbian icon! He has brought pride to every corner of Serbia and is a helping to squash the former, media generated image of Serbians. He became a tennis pro in 2003 and carries a career record of 401-111 and holds 29 titles … the most recent was the longest match in Grand Slam history at the Australian Open in a 5 hr and 53 min victory over Nadal. WE ALL LOVE DJOKOVIC!
Soccer or “football” …. Last but not least in popularity is soccer or “football” as it is known in Serbia and most places throughout the world. The two most popular teams are Partizan and Red Star. I have yet to experience a soccer match in Serbia. I am petrified of the “hooligans” or the PASSIONATE fans of both teams. Many fights, brawls, yelling matches , etc … erupt over this sport!!! I have been told its not safe to wear red and white or black and white when wandering the streets in Belgrade and Novi Sad. It seems that half of the country likes Partizan and half the country likes Red Star… I stay out our it for my own safety! :)… Red Star was founded in 1945 as the “United alliance of anti-facist youth” and Partizan was “the club of Yugoslav Peoples Army.” When the play each other it is known as the “ETERNAL DERBY.” The Partizan fans are known as “gravediggers” while the Red Star fans have been known to be called “Delije or Cigani” the latter meaning GYPSIES. Since 2008 Partizan has dominated the derby winning by a score of 8-1 with one tie…