GoPlay Sports introduces Croatia as a soccer destination
GoPlay is excited to announce Croatia as our latest soccer destination.
Ranked as one of the most popular top 20 destinations in the world Croatia is a real gem. At the crossroads of Central and South-East Europe, on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia borders Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Slovenia.
Soccer in Croatia, called nogomet, is, defined by Wikipedia as “the most popular sport in the country” and, were reliably informed, on visiting the country that is clearly evident.
Croatia though has only represented itself as an independent nation since 1993, when the team was officially recognized by both FIFA and UEFA and only last year they did the unthinkable and reached the World Cup final, only to lose 4-2 to France.
That was their greatest ever showing on the world stage and that put Croatia on the map on the world stage.
GoPlay recently caught up with Region Director of Boston Bolts, Massachusetts, Davor Dvanajscak, from Medulin, Croatia to ask him about Croatia as a destination of choice for US college and club teams.
“Croatia is very beautiful and one of the most popular destinations in the world,” said an enthused Dvanajscak.
“You can expect the most competitive games because soccer is the no.1 sport in Croatia and the kids are very competitive and passionate about it; it’s in our DNA.
“We want to make sure that people who come here have the most competitive experience and we have numerous high-level clubs with Zagreb nearby, but we can also cater for recreational teams.
“The place we go to is a peninsula called Istria and the location is perfect - near Venice and Italy and close to the Adriatic Sea, and a lot of clubs come here to prepare for the season.
“The Croatia national team had a camp here before they headed to Russia for the World Cup last year - and that went well of course!
“The quality of the pitches are good because of the climate and they are not played on excessively, also their close proximity to the accommodation etc. means the teams do not have to travel too much.”
Although Croatia cannot boast a colored history with regards soccer, Dvanajscak points out their recent success underpinned by population of just half of that of New York.
“Croatia has proven to be, in just 20 years, a real force - coming third at the World Cup in 1998 and runners-up last year in Russia,” says Dvanajscak.
“With just a population of just 4.2million we have done exceptionally well and the passion for the game here is immense. Luka Modric playing at Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona and Dejan Lovren at Liverpool have been an inspiration to many kids.
“Even at 10 years old we have kids here whose mindset is that of a professional and that can only rub off on visiting teams.
“Locally Dinamo Zagreb’s youth Academy has been named as one of the best in Europe over the last 10 years and they keep producing players who are sold for millions of dollars all over Europe.
“Sport here is seen to open doors for many children here. Sport here is seen as a religion and not just soccer, handball is also very popular,” adds a proud Dvanajscak.
Dvanajscak is also keen to point out that culturally, Croatia and the Istria region is diverse with strong influences from neighboring European countries.
“Croatians are very welcoming of tourists - to make sure they keep coming!
“The Adriatic Sea is also one of the most beautiful places with no waves, and the temperature of the sea is 20 degrees and all the hotels were use are very close to the water. The salt levels in the sea also mean that even the weakest swimmers float really well.
“The food is also extraordinary with a huge mixture from the east and west. From the East you have the Greek influence with Feta cheese and olives and then on the Italian side you have pastas and the wine is fantastic, and not to forget the figs and desserts.
“There is also plenty of history to take in with the 3000-year-old Pula coliseum from the Roman empire a must see, and Porec has ancient ruins which sees tourists flock from far and wide.
“There is a ferry to Venice and you can get to Trieste in an hour, while Slovenia’s lakes and mountains, Bosnia and Germany are also nearby - the location is close to perfect.”