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Corey and I aft. Cliff Jumping Dubrovnik, Croatia


Triumphant Croatia

by Preston Price

     Croatia is a nation containing much recent turmoil.  It has only been a nation for just over a decade and has had a gruesome past filled with war.  Supposedly there are thousands of land mines left over throughout the country’s beautiful national parks.  One would assume that this would have an effect on the new nation’s ability to rebuild, but this did not seem so to me when I recently visited.  In the article subtitled “War lunch”, from the book Fear, Death, and Resistance:  An Ethnography of War: Croatia 1991-1992, Nives Ritig-Beljak uses future Croatian citizens in a war town in 1991 to explain the unique ability for Croatians to be able to overcome such hardships.  This is apparent in the last paragraph of the article when Ritig-Beljak refers to the Croatians by saying, “The atrocities of war, the destruction, the hunger, the traumatic experiences, did not however destroy the hope of going back and starting a new life in Vukovar...”

    I focused my collection of data on the topic of soccer, using it as a tool for better understanding the people of Croatia’s miraculous ability to bounce back from their violent past.  First of all I would like to state that Croatia came in 3rd place in the 1998 World Cup.  This must have been a surprise to a world wide audience who had never even seen Croatia participate in a World Cup, particularly because the country was less than a decade old at the time and a national soccer team had failed to previously exist. In the 1998 World Cup, they had upset world renowned teams with vast histories of being great soccer powers.  I see this as a realization that the peoples living in the area that currently makes up Croatia, must have had a historical reverence for the game of soccer.  This does not disregard the fact that becoming a new nation could have also brought inspiration and determination for the desire to win, to the new citizens of Croatia. 

    My observations in Croatia led me to believe that this is true.  I took notice of numerous children playing in streets and many alleys had small goals spray painted on the brick walls.  There were more stores and stands selling soccer jerseys than any other country that I had previously visited.  Perhaps the greatest evidence that I found was from a brief conversation I had with a waiter at a local restaurant in Dubrovnik.  He told me that he had been in the recent war for independence, and his love for the game of soccer had at times been a primary motivation to live and fight.  I had no idea that such past times could hold so much value for an individual in such desperate times.  Whether it be soccer as a motivating factor or not, I did come to realize that the Croatian people truly are unique in their capability to triumph over such hardships.

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