There are rare sports in Sarajevo that have such a rich history as ice hockey. The first written document on the work of Sarajevo hockey players dates back to the 1950s. Namely, the notes of the greatest sports enthusiast of that time, Jaša Bakov, date from the distant 1953. Bakov, until then coach of Sarajevo athletes and an exceptional athlete, noticed the great potential of this region for development of winter sports, and precisely hockey, seemed the most interesting.
Organizing a skating competition, he encounters the biggest problem that sliders can have – the lack of an ice rink. But imaginative Bakov, in the best way, took advantage of the potential of nature, which during the winter mercilessly plays with low temperatures and abundance of precipitation.
Development of hockey
Jaša remembered the lake in the Pionirska dolina, which was frozen almost all November, December, January and February. Thus Sarajevo got its first ice surface …
The first hockey club in Sarajevo was Bosna. Jaša Bakov was actively and painstakingly working on the promotion of the “new sport” in Sarajevo. The Hockey Club Bosna was formed, and problems with the procurement of equipment and basic conditions for normal work and training were big. Soon, Bakov, who was under pressure because of his duties in Novi Sad where he lived, had to reconcile himself with fate and left Sarajevo, where he quickly gained many friends for a short time, and enriched the local sports with new trends, and forever entered the rich history of the City of Sarajevo.
With his departure, everything became much harder, hockey in Sarajevo slowly disappeared, but not love for this dynamic sport. The second half of the 1970s brought the new golden age of Sarajevo winter sports, the Olympic spirit directed more and more people towards the mountains and ski resorts, and by building the Ice Hall in Skenderija, the optimal conditions for playing hockey were achieved. The Hockey Club Bosna was officially formed in 1980.
The arrival of the Czech national team player and celebrated coach Jaroslav Jandaurek in Sarajevo in 1981 did not at first differe much from the rest of the tourists’ visits from various parts of Europe, who were happy to visit Sarajevo in those years. However, Czech stayed longer than he had originally planned, and he recognized the great hockey potential of this area. Soon he received a coach engagement in Bosna that started a great project to create a great team that will forever mark Sarajevo sport.
– After the Winter Olympics in 1984, we become professionals, and we compete in the then Balkan League. In the very beginning, no significant results were achieved. However, the renaissance of the club is taking place when the current selector of the hockey team of BiH Brian Jokat came. That was certainly the best season of Bosna. He surpassed all players in the league, he achieved more than 50 goals. It was 1986 – 1987, says Din Gašević, President of the Hockey Club of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Visit B&H.
According to him, the expansion of the hockey and the Hockey Club Bosna is going on until the war, and after the war, a difficult period for the club comes.
-We could not financially maintain it, so we took a break. In 2000, the Club started working again and here we are. We currently have 15 players, and somehow the hardest and most important task is to find younger players who will inherit us in this sport. In addition, we have excellent cooperation with other clubs, and somehow we stand out for a great friendship and cooperation with the Hockey Club Ilidža – says Din.
There are currently five clubs in Sarajevo, of which four are male and one female. In the winter period, when the ice rink is available, the BiH league is played.
-BiH League is played for a month or about 13 terms. All clubs are from Sarajevo and there are no clubs from other cities. Hockey club Bosna is one of the initiators of the Balkan League project (IHL) where clubs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia would perform. We do not know what will come out from this because we need ice hall and ice for some 4- 5 months a year – emphasizes Din.
Funding of clubs goes through sponsorship. City Administration gave some funds to clubs to cover costs for January this year.
-We make a plan for the whole year and figure out how much funds we can raise to finance everything that is necessary for playing the league, but also the arrival of young people and children. Our plan is to organize a skating school, and then offer children hockey as an option. This is a really beautiful sport and it’s not as dangerous as it seems – says Gašević.
Since in Sarajevo ice rink works only during the winter period, we were interested in how the hockey players of this and other clubs are training in the summer days.
-We are in hockey with our bodies and souls for a whole year. When we are not on the ice we are doing “dry training”. It’s physical maintenance, because we need to be ready for the ice when the season starts. We are completely in this sport – emphasizes Gašević.
The Hockey Club Bosna has also given a large number of national team players, as well as hockey players who are playing in other European countries.
-Those are not classic transfers like football. These are the people who played in Bosna, but they went abroad to study or live. We have players in Finland, Austria, Sweden … Some of them are also BiH nationals – says Din at the end.