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A very special love is fuelling a passionate re-birth of ZKK Partizan
NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen Women’s Basketball Worldwide) – Love will conquer all, but when there’s added passion pumping through the veins, you can begin to understand why something truly magical is happening at ZKK Partizan.
A famous sporting brand from Belgrade, Serbia, they competed in EuroCup Women during 2011, 2012 and 2013, before sinking to the second tier of Serbian basketball after some serious financial problems.
Now a wife and husband team are underpinning a resurrection and it’s something very special indeed. Former EuroLeague Women guard Miljana Bojovic, who stepped out with Tango Bourges Basket last season, has teamed up with her husband Predrag 'Kuci' Bojovic to pool their talents when it comes to knowing the women’s game. These dual powers are doing everything they can, in order to get the club on a path back towards the glory days again.
Their love for each other, their love for women’s basketball and their love for Partizan is proving a force to be reckoned with – even if mere things such as having a ‘shoe-string’ budget is just one of the multiple barriers in their way.
Mrs Bojovic is treading the basketball boards for free and has been installed as captain to lead by example – eyeing up a potential coaching role one day. Meanwhile her spouse is using his contacts and influence to get fans through the door – and the early results have been extraordinary.
But they aren’t making sacrifices alone. They are the first to stress this to me. Some players are taking a minimal wage, other people are volunteering their services in marketing and other logisitics – or just doing things as cheaply as possible. Everyone involved is looking to build the club’s capacity when it comes to resources, exposure, commercial appeal and financial strength.
Alongside the obvious on-court veteran skills and assistance of ‘Mili’ [as she is affectionately known to her team-mates], 'Kuki' is harnessing another powerful and fascinating movement. It is one that is seeing incredible positivity and support from an alternative group of supporters who promote Partizan through art.
Known as ‘Grobarski trash romantizam’ and also connected with a Partizan punk band called Grupa JNA, the supporters movement is right behind the women’s team as they appreciate the love that is being invested into the re-birth of the club. Even Kuki himself is a well-known artist and performer via his own band Samostalni Referenti, with their video to the song ‘Zivot Je San’ featuring a Good Angeles Kosice kit!
This fascinating fusion of the arts, music and basketball, a passion for all things Partizan and a lot of dedication, has helped the club not only make a return to the top flight in Serbia, but also compete in the WABA League. It has also helped to create some sensational atmospheres that would be the envy of other clubs right across the globe.
Their participation in their opening WABA League fixture collided with the 72nd birthday of the entire Partizan sporting club and more than 3,500 fans turned up to watch. Naturally Grupa JNA provided the pre-game entertainment by playing a 'set'.
And, a 65-61 victory then made it a day to remember - with a last gasp triple sealing the deal.
Croatian side Medvescak even spoke about how impressed they were with the atmosphere, claiming they had not played in any atmosphere quite like it!
Perhaps the most special element of all, is that this husband and wife partnership at the heart of the club, are trying to sow some long terms seeds. The senior players don’t even have apparel provided other than their game jerseys, but this is not deterring the Bojovic couple from putting what little resources they have remaining into creating a youth set-up. Tracksuits are quite rightly being put on hold in favor of attracting tomorrow's potential stars.
With everything that is happening at Partizan and especially the heady cocktail of arts, music a and the women's game, I almost feel a pang of jealousy for those who are involved in something they absolutely love to the bone.
At least they can count on my support and it is a story that I am hoping will one day seal their return to EuroCup Women. Certainly ‘Mili’ and ‘Kuki’ would deserve it – along with everyone else who is supporting the club and the women's game.
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