First of all, I would like to thank UEFA, who have enabled us to organize such tournaments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These tournaments are very important for boys and girls under 16, because at these tournaments, in addition to football skills, it also gives them an opportunity to socialize, [00:53] to make new friends, to receive education during the tournament, because the referees at matches also act as educators, warn them of faults, so that in the future, when they become high-category players, they will not make the mistakes that young players do.
You see, when we are talking about the organization of these tournaments, Bosnia and Herzegovina, or the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I must point out that I have been a member of the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina for fifteen years or so, where I have organized and been the director of about 60 tournaments. [02:36] This comes with a lot of commitment to be, above all, good organizers, to support all teams that come to Bosnia and Herzegovina, to show them everything that is valuable in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in addition to culture and history, [02:53] i.e. football knowledge and skills, desire to make friendship; to show the countries from Europe that we are a young, but a very very very beautiful country. But as far as the educational aspect is concerned, we dedicate our special attention to our boys and girls [03:13] to show in these tournaments everything they have learned at their clubs or what our Federation has prepared for them to become national team players.
You see, when talking about the under-16 girls development tournament, we have taken a serious step towards the organization of these tournaments and, above all, we attempted to commit ourselves highly to this. It's not just about the match; to get there many preparations are required, [03:54] ranging from security of the stadium for matches, security of the stadium for training, transport, accommodation, food, security and other contents, and at the end of all this, [04:10] as we like to say, our official dinner, official lunch, when the heads of team delegations can say that they are satisfied or not, whether the organization of the tournament is good or not. [04:27] And if they tell us that the tournament was organized perfectly, then we are happy, and we always try our best to land the next tournament.
We are eager to win matches. However, winning is not our focus. We are a very small country with only a few players, our national team is four years old,
and we have six or seven girls born in 1995 that have joined the A team. That is our success. There we can see that we are on the right path. We are not focussing on results but on the development of our players. They themselves set their goals. They want to be footballers playing for the national team.
I am certainly more experienced after every game with the team, experienced in playing, and as a person and an athlete. Because here we have really good talks with the selector, and we are developing ourselves as athletes.
Well, I have already said that it is the most important thing in life to have friends, of course from all sides. And of course, in social networks… we will continue that friendship. And it's nice to know that somewhere in Macedonia I have somebody now, [04:01] and can meet them every time I go there, and it is a good thing that somebody is doing the same thing I do.
First of all, I would like to say that we have seen big progress in women's football in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past four years. Before, that was not the case. We had something we call the dark period when there was no progress and football in general in Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the same situation (00:31). We all know how that worked in the past. But in the past four years, and for women's football especially, the last two to three years have entailed more development, and much more is being invested in women's football. We can already see the fruits of that, through the results that the national team is having, but also the results that our men's and women's champions of SFK 2000 are showing (00:51). These are the results of the investments made by the [football] association and UEFA for women's football. Of course it means a lot, as all of it is sport, there is no women's and men's sport, it is all just sport. And if someone loves a sport then he or she have the right to play that sport and feel equal to others.
It is recognizable that UEFA have been investing a lot into women's football these past few years, that they invest energy into it. They have transferred that onto these girls through our association. They really invest a lot into women's football, and that message has reached our associates and they have listened to them and accepted it very positively (02:28). Foremost I wish to stress a very positive attitude of our Director, President, the association, the technical director as well as our coordinator for women's football, who work on this every day and make plans for us and fulfil them as well (02:45). All of that is very visible. I would also like to stress... I have been a football player for the past 10 years, and I have played for the youth national team [U19], and I can tell you that we did not have anything in the past. We only played three qualification games (03:04) but we did not have camps, no friendly games; but today I can see that these children, U16, have a development tournament, they have camps at which they develop inside Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they have everything they need to become better, and the results show that (03:18). In 2009 our U19s managed to get to the second round, and the younger ones are also showing some results. Bosnia and Herzegovina are no longer a national team who only lose, they are now players who win, and that can be seen foremost in our first team (03:33); they win games and they play very well against much stronger teams, for example against Sweden. We all know who Sweden are, and we had a 1-0 against them, which is an excellent result.
I am a player, but I also work in administration for the club SFK 2000 from Sarajevo, and for the past 12 years we have been the champions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the same amount of years we have participated in the UEFA Europa League. This year it is the fourth time that we have hosted the qualification tournament, or better to say, the group stage of the Europa League (04:16) and that really means a lot to us. This tournament brings the Europa League to our country, to Sarajevo, and people can watch a tournament like this, which is an elite football tournament, the biggest in Europe, and it means a lot when games like this are played in our country (04:36). That helps us a lot to make women's football more popular. We can show people games, they can watch other teams, they can watch us and also European football. That means a great deal. In that way you can say: UEFA is in town!
Considering the past three years during which women's football in Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken a big step, I see that we finally, with the support of the association and UEFA, can take further steps (07:05). I am talking about these golden three years because four years ago we only had six teams in our league, and we did not play many games. Perhaps 10 to 12 during one season, which is really little, especially if you compete in European competitions (07:21). Today, we have eight clubs in the Premier League and for the first time this year we have a united league which is a big thing for us. We also have eight teams in the Federations league, eight teams in the league of the Republic of Serbia and eight teams in the U17 league of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (07:37). Hence, now we have four leagues in comparison to four years ago when there were six teams and only one league. That is a big achievement. In the next period I believe we will manage to broaden this sport and that we will have more girls, teams and leagues. We will go towards that and try to climb on the list. Hopefully we'll succeed.