Serbia, the country of sport: part II
SERBIA, THE COUNTRY OF SPORT: PART II
If you read the first part of our blog, you already know how important sport is to Serbians. This part will be dedicated to the biggest Serbian successes accomplished in team sports. Before we start, it is crucial to underline that Serbian national teams, throughout history, have played under different names in international competitions: SFR Yugoslavia, FR Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, but all the results and medals from these periods are succeeded by the Serbian national teams.
Many will agree that soccer (or football) is the most popular sport in Serbia, even though the accomplishments of our national team are not as impressive as in other team sports. One specific thing about Serbian soccer is the club rivalry between the two biggest clubs: Red Star and Partizan. It is almost certain that at some point in your life in Serbia, both parties will try to “recruit” you into becoming a fan of their favorite club. Both clubs have had their strong moments, so they have been champions of Serbia and have participated several times in Champions and UFFA leagues, but probably the most significant success of Serbian soccer is Red Star winning the European Cup and International Cup in 1991. When it comes to the Serbian national team, during the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, Serbia U20 (under 20) won the final against Brazil and became the first team representing the country to win the World gold. Many world-famous soccer players have gained their fame playing for big European teams like Siniša Mihajlović, Dejan Stanković, Nemanja Vidić, and others. The lack of titles did not make Serbs stop supporting their national team. Recently, Serbia qualified for the 2022 World Cup, and people were thrilled about it. So, if you choose Serbia for your new study destination, you will have the best company to follow the next World Cup.
Basketball is arguably the second most popular team sport in Serbia, and over the years, the country has offered the world many people in basketball, from executives to coaches and players. Serbia has a long basketball tradition and is currently ranked fifth in the FIBA World Rankings. Serbia has won World, Olympic, and European gold medals. Serbian basketball players also have a long history of playing for the NBA: Vlade Divac, Predrag Stojković, Marko Jarić, Željko Rebrača, Igor Rakočević - all played in the NBA. In recent years, Nikola Jokić has gotten the most attention by getting into the top 10 of the all-time NBA players with the most triple-doubles, he is the leading European player in the same category, and he holds the record for the fastest triple-double achieved in 14 minutes and 33 seconds. He is also the first Serbian player ever to win NBA Most Valuable Player Award (MVP).
It is also important to mention the Serbia women's national basketball team, which has also been very successful. Serbia is currently the European Champion and ranked seventeenth in the FIBA World Rankings. This is their second European gold; they had also won a gold medal on the EuroBasket 2015 and Olympic bronze medal in 2016, making it the biggest achievement of Serbian women's basketball so far. If you are a basketball enthusiast, we are confident that you will enjoy living in Serbia: the country of basketball.
Serbians are also excellent at volleyball, and Serbia is one of the leading volleyball countries in the world. When it comes to the national men's team, probably the biggest and the most memorable achievement happened at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when Serbia won Olympic gold. Apart from that, Serbia also has silver from the World Championship and three golds from European Championships. There are many Serbian world-famous volleyball players, among which Vladimir and Nikola Grbić are members of the Volleyball Hall of Fame.
The women's national volleyball team has won the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship, European Championship three times (in 2011, 2017, and 2019), as well as the Olympic silver medal in 2016. Serbia women's national volleyball team is ranked first in the FIVB International Rankings. In the later years, this team has been the pride and joy of the nation participating in all important events and coming home with medals, the latest being bronze from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. In 2019 and 2011, both national teams became European Champions bringing the double gold back home. As you can see, if you are into volleyball, Serbia is a place to be!
Serbian national water polo team is the most successful national team as they have won more titles than all other Serbian national teams combined. They hold titles in all five major championships: European Championship, World Championship, World Cup, World League, and Olympic Games. Known for their excellence and attractive game, they received the nickname “The Dolphins”. As one can imagine, Serbian water polo players were often chosen as a “dream team”, with Aleksandar Šoštar and Igor Milanović being members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Aleksandar Šapić was elected in the top 5 best water polo players of all time. The Dolphins were the world champions five times. They have also won 8 European Championships, 5 World Cups, and 12 times were the golden boys of the World League. Serbian national water polo team has 5 Olympic gold medals, the latest being from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Considering all the above, you can already imagine all the love Serbians share for water polo. If you are interested in learning more about this sport, Serbia is the perfect country for you!