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10/08/2015 14:18
European League matches provide experience of a lifetime for young children from Zagreb’s foster home
News from the National Federations

Zagreb, Croatia, August 10, 2015. On Saturday and Sunday as they finished their duties in the 2015 CEV Volleyball European League – Men playing two matches with Romania, the Croatian men’s national team enjoyed the support of a group of special fans who by the end of the week became their newest friends. Gabrijela, Ivona, Ana, Branko, Andjelko, Sanela and Naeem are all staying at the country’s capital Children’s Home and for two days they enjoyed the experience of a lifetime working as volunteers at the European League matches played by their heroes in Zagreb.  

Though they almost had no knowledge at all of the sport, they worked really hard and followed the instructions of their mentors to deliver a good job as moppers during the matches that Croatia played – and eventually won – with Romania in the last weekend of pool play for the 2015 edition of the CEV Volleyball European League.

And even though the staff of the Croatian Volleyball Federation and of the country’s Olympic Committee were a bit afraid this would be a little too demanding a job for these young boys and girls, they were definitely up to the task and worked in a very professional way. They pleased CEV Supervisor Mrs. Riet Ooms-van den Berg and their mentor as well. They somehow turned into a kind of little ‘stars’ and without their contribution the matches would not have run as smoothly as they did.

“They were all very happy and excited with the opportunity they were given to be a part of this competition and even happier with the sympathy they got to feel and with the chance of making new friends,” says their leader Kristina Obrovac. “They all have their favourite Volleyball players now and they really like the game.”

Their work was so much appreciated by the players of Croatia’s national team that they all provided t-shirts and other mementos as a special souvenir from this experience. Gabrijela, Ivona, Ana, Branko, Andjelko, Sanela and Naeem returned home with a t-shirt signed by their newest friends and with a selfie picture that not every kid can boast.   

The question that everyone got to hear was “when is the next game going to be played?” and the children also shed tears of joy upon receiving souvenirs and gifts from the players of the Croatian national team. “This is the best day of my life,” said a boy suffering of Down syndrome.

The two victories claimed by Croatia in their matches with Romania were just the icing on the cake for what is only the very beginning of a story where friendship stands at the very core of everyone’s actions.

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