Petrovic and Maljkovic inspire at 'Her World, Her Rules' Tournament in Belgrade
BELGRADE (Serbia) - The popularity of Sonja Petrovic and Marina Maljkovic is already sky-high and will reach new levels if Serbia hit the podium on home soil at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019.
Having both delivered famous historical success with a first-ever title for their country at the 2015 edition and then a maiden Olympic medal at Rio 2016, they are role models for the next generation of Serbian players.
So it was not a surprise they received the loudest cheers and support from the young girls playing at a special tournament in Belgrade on Friday, as part of the 'Her World, Her Rules' initiative.
Organized by FIBA Europe, in cooperation with the Serbian Basketball Federation (KSS) and the Marina Maljkovic Movement, which delivers the 'Her World, Her Rules' campaign in Serbia, more than 100 girls aged 9 to 15 were involved. They also had the chance to get autographs and meet with an array of leading Women's EuroBasket players, including the likes of Emma Meesseman from Belgium and Raisa Musina from Russia.
Speaking at the tournament, Sonja Petrovic stated: "We know how important it was for us when we were younger to have opportunities to meet with some of the big names of the game and to hear their story and about their way to the top.
"Thanks to FIBA for believing in women's basketball. I believe we play this game with super emotion and offer a different side of basketball and we do it with love. Thanks to FIBA for trusting in young girls from all over Europe and I am sure they will pay you back."
Meanwhile Maljkovic added: "These are all girls who love basketball. This is the future of our sport. We all have a moral obligation to hand over the torch to the next generation. We all need to be on a mission to make women's basketball a positive number one topic in our society.
"We need to start from the base with the younger ones. We need to transfer to them all the most important features of a basketball player, which can also make them extraordinary people, so they are valued and respected in our society."
The President of the Serbian Basketball Federation, Mr. Predrag Danilovic commented: "On behalf of the Serbian Basketball Federation, I would like to thank FIBA for starting this program and allocating the funds to invest in the promotion of female basketball and true sport values among young girls.
"We are very happy to be involved in a project which collaborates with schools, clubs and other subjects, where we can all can do a very useful thing for the community – to promote the best of sport values to the young girls at an age when they are like sponge, and they can absorb easily everything they learn from us. Also, I hope we will learn something from them.
FIBA Executive Director Europe, Mr. Kamil Novak stated: "We are pleased the Board of FIBA Europe agreed an investment of 1 million euros for our Federations two years ago and it's really a pleasure to see the results in one of our Federations, what has happened and what can be done.
"I am happy to see all the girls here; and Coach Maljkovic said they are not all of the girls and just an example of what is happening in Serbia. It is amazing to see the fruits of our investment."
The girls' tournament signed off the first year of the campaign, with the second year set to tip off in September, at the start of the new school year.
For more information about the FIBA Europe Girls' Program, visit the 'Her World, Her Rules' page.