Sport Is always Worth the Effort
He was on top of Europe four times with three clubs, and worked in six countries. Born in Lika, grew up in Kraljevo, matured as coach in Belgrade, led the Old Continent’s greatest clubs. As president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia, he confronted the same great challenges which the Serbian nation, as well as Serbian sports, has been going through. Recovery is possible, of course, but it must begin from the bottom. Our allies are honesty, patience, great efforts, knowledge and visionary boldness

By: Dejan Bulajić

The trophy basketball coach has collected valuable experience in his career. He worked in the best European clubs, won titles, created supreme players and, three years ago, took over the function of president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia. He says that he was aware that the job is not as stressful as coaching, but couldn’t even anticipate the challenge that derailed the entire world, including sports, which is still looking for a way to get back to normal.
– Consequences of the corona virus strike on sports are now coming to light. Competitions are interrupted in the entire world, clubs are left without teams, stadiums and courts without audience, sponsors withdrew. Above all is the fact that even the Olympic Games were postponed, although Japan was ready for them. Tenants who bought apartments in the Olympic village were supposed to move in in September. They will have to be paid enormous compensations. The plans of all international associations and the best athletes are completely disrupted and none of them know when things will get back to normal. Uncertainty is killing athletes. Without plans for future competitions, preparing doesn’t have a full effect; you cannot work in full power, resulting in more frequent injuries. Leaders of the International Olympic Committee raise optimism by stating that the Games will be held next year. We can only hope it will really be so.

How do you see the possible return to regular sports routines?
If the world finds a way to defeat the epidemic, things will slowly get back to normal. That is certain, just as it is certain that the rich will get richer after all this, and the poor will become poorer. Some clubs have grown into empires, they will again be a magnet for money, they will again pay expensive contracts, so even such a difficult situation will not disturb their long-term plans. Not even the corona virus will restrain what we’ve been calling a disturbed financial fair-play for years. Only strict international regulations could do it. The small and poor will face bigger problems. More difficult moments are awaiting us and our leagues. We’ve had problems with water polo, women’s basketball and many other competitions anyway. I’m afraid that, for many sports, circumstances will be even more difficult. However, either way, we’re not entitled to defeatism.


Will the actual situation force us to seriously look into the problems that have been existing in our sports for a long time?
There are numerous problems lasting for a long time. Let’s start from the basic one, which is not often mentioned: the fact that physical education almost disappeared from our schools. We degraded it, together with PE teachers and professors. My generations and many after mine learned a lot from them – from general life topics, love for sports, to healthy growing up. And today? Only 12 percent of boys and girls in Serbia are into sports, and only 4 percent of them under coaches’ supervision. We need to change the bad regulations concerning sports as soon as possible, since they are outdated and full of illogicalities. We shouldn’t refrain from admitting that the future of our sports is not brilliant and that there is much to be done about it. Even in sports we are traditionally favorites in. In conversations with coaches, players and people from the associations, we came to conclusions which are not really optimistic. Many details should be recognized at the right time. Some of our champions, in whom we trust, are at the end of their careers, many girls want to build families and slowly withdraw from sports. On the other hand, many countries are openly offering passports and lucrative contracts to our talented juniors, which imposes new challenges. Thus, we need to go through a thorough reconstruction and focus on sports in which we believe we can achieve supreme results. Luckily, we have the understanding and support of state authorities, which means a lot to us and I believe it will facilitate the creation of plans, which the future of Serbian sports will be based on.

What is your opinion about professional work in our sports since more and more coaches are leaving the country?
It’s difficult to find a solution for that problem because the money offered to top level experts are something we cannot compete with. Some of our prominent coaches are still here only because of their strong patriotic feeling, but it’s uncertain how long it will last, because of the free flow of experts. We also have foreigners for coaches in handball, boxing, rowing. We are trying not to fall behind in the professional realm. However, it’s necessary to make plans for bringing up new young coaches, just as we do with athletes.


In the past months, fear was the dominant feeling among people. How do athletes, featured by boldness and decisiveness, confront fear?
Don’t think that athletes are exempted from fear. On the contrary. It’s just that maybe we know how to handle it and don’t allow it to be expressed in crucial moments. I could feel fear in many of my teams before important games. You simply can’t go without it while thinking about possible outcomes. It’s good that I was able to turn that feeling into a strong fuel, which gave me additional motivation. Same with players. They used to call me after midnight, stressed out, to release anxiety before the games. Some of them, such as Savić or Stojaković, used to come to the court at two a.m. to shoot hoops, to put the great nervousness under control. If you conquer it, fear can make you great; if you yield to it, it will surely destroy you. The same was with corona, which threatened and is still threatening the entire world.

What else do you consider as human virtues?
Honesty above all! I brought up my children to be honest people and make their way through life as such. You can’t do much without it in life, certainly not at such a demanding stage as the sports one. That was how I made my teams during my coaching career. I often gave up on high quality players after discovering some bad details from their life. Such players cannot be trusted. It’s only a matter of time when they will betray you and shake the entire team you have been putting together as a strong group. It’s better to have a lower quality player who is honest, honorable, for whom you know will give his best. Being honest is an expression of human force and you can’t be selective in it; if you’re honest to yourself, you’ll be honest to your family, to your country, friends, associates, obligations.

Athletes are contemporary Spartans. Do you think that young generations are not really prepared for such roles?
Unfortunately, they’re not. We can go back to the number of children engaged in sports in Serbia, and the even more devastating fact that 70 percent of Serbian children have spine deformities, mostly kyphosis. Why? Before all, because of limited physical activity and the fact that they are not engaged in sports, not even recreationally. Senior citizens used to chase us away from basketball courts in New Belgrade, at two a.m., wearing pajamas and carrying World War II guns. Today most of those courts are empty, deserted. Where are the children? Many will tell me that they are in front of computers or mobile phones and that’s probably true. I’m not against the modern world legacy, especially not technical development. However, seeing children intoxicated with video games and social networks so much that it is jeopardizing their psycho-physical health, we must be very determined. We should seriously think about introducing special regulations limiting children the possibility of using computers and mobile phones! However, we cannot do it without the help of schools, which brings us back to the problem we have already talked about – many experts trained for physical education of children are spending their days jobless, while new generations are bending with curved spines and other initial diseases. When we add the growing number of young people leaving the country, there really isn’t much useful material left for supreme sports.


Did sport fulfill what attracted you to it in the past?
Sport is always worth the effort. Actually, it’s not just sport, it’s a lesson for life in general, which sport makes more vivid. I’ll go back to honesty again. Doing your job honestly, giving your best and having a good relationship with your associates, players, showing them they could trust you, is all you are supposed to do on your way to the wanted result. Of course, it doesn’t mean that triumph is guaranteed, because in sports, especially team sports, it’s never only yourself that you depend on. Sometimes it happens in the last second that you lose everything you have been creating the entire season. However, even that will return to you, in some other place, in some other circumstance in life. People who know how difficulty and carefully a good result is created, know that nothing is in vain. Even when everything ends in failure, if you’ve been working honestly, you won’t have any reason to accuse yourself. Your conscience, which always clearly shows you what you’ve been doing and how, will be clean.

Do you ever feel nostalgic about the court?
The coaching reflex is still very strong in me. Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, I think that I should get out of bed as soon as possible, have my coffee and go to practice, but then I remember that I have completely different obligations now. My current job pervades my entire being, just as coaching has before. I’m surrounded with young and ambitious people, for whom there are no obstacles and who make my job easier to a great degree. Besides, my job in the Olympic Committee is not as stressful as coaching. Especially today, when you have games almost every third day and no possibility to get enough rest and prepare the team, whilst ambitions are still very high. It more and more resembles the NBA, which is not in accordance with classical European understanding of basketball. I satisfy my nostalgic feelings by frequently watching games. Then I decide which team I will support and imagine myself as their coach, how I’d lead the team, what I’d do. Thus, I feel the pulses of my old passions.


Božidar Maljković worked in numerous European clubs. His biggest successes – European champion titles – were with ”Jugoplastika” (twice), ”Limoges” and ”Panathinaikos”. He was born in 1952 in Otočac, Lika, but grew up in Kraljevo, where he began playing basketball. His playing ambitions were soon replaced with coaching, so, already at the age of nineteen, he became coach of ”Ušće” from Belgrade. Together with his coaching work, he graduated at the Faculty of Law, but that did not detach him from basketball. After his experiences in ”Radnički” and ”Zvezda”, he was brilliant in ”Jugoplastika”, succeeded by ”Barcelona”, ”Limoges”, ”Panathinaikos”, ”Unicaja”, ”Real”, ”TAU Cerámica”, ”Lokomotiva” and ”Cedevita”. He was coach of the Slovenian national team for three years. He has been president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia since 2017.


From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију