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Serbia – welcome to IFA! # Armwrestling #

The 28th Senec Hand saw some Serbian competitors. For the first time in history they took part in an international IFA tournament. Time to learn something about them and their organization from Milos Zeljic Prezident of Serbia Federation. ()

28th Senec Hand link to results

PeSzy: When did armwrestling come to Serbia?

Milos Zeljic: Armwrestling as a sport arrived in Serbia in 2009, when there were over 100 competitors in the first tournament. Marcelo Rusovan started the sport. The road to our Union was difficult, but we succeeded. Our Saiyan club was already running smaller tournaments at that time, but over time the administration changed and our sport started to lose its importance and there were fewer and fewer competitors. There was a state championship of 60 competitors. We tried to organize our first international tournament, we organized everything, we agreed with a lot of foreign competitors to come to us, and that arrangement was mediated by another organization. Two weeks before the tournament we spoke to foreign judges with whom we agreed to judge us but they, apparently, had been informed that the tournament had been canceled.

That organization cancelled my tournament, which I financed from my own pocket, behind my back, and blackmailed a lot of competitors, banned them to come to our tournament without even telling me that they did it. They wanted to surprise me like that on the day of the tournament and ruin my club.

I was lucky to find out about it in time and to include the high school championships in that tournament. Then, dissatisfied with the conditions of the new management, the club "SAIYAN" (SAJAN) separated in agreement with many clubs that were not registered at that time, and we started to do more serious tournaments. After that, the previously mentioned organization caused us problems, it prevented the competitors from coming to us, saying that if they come, they will ban them from national championships. After that, in cooperation with several clubs, we founded the Serbian armwrestling league and started working on the State Championship. We were the first in Serbia to start competitions for amateurs where we got a lot of new participants and we were the first in the country to do Armwrstling Championships in high schools. We started with one high school, and now after 5 years we work in 5 high schools and once a year between high schools. We are the only ones in the country doing armwrestling tournaments for schools. At the beginning of this year we founded two more clubs and formed the Serbian Armwrstling Union, joining it in IFA, and a month ago we founded another club and started the procedure for founding 3 more clubs in the country. So far, we have competed in Montenegro abroad, and Senec Hand is the first tournament of this level in which we participated, and yet we still managed to earn 4 medals in it. The plan of our Union is to have at least 8 clubs by the end of this year, and in two months, when the school holidays are over, in addition to the high school championship we will also start the primary school championships in armwrestling. One of the primary goals is to visit as many tournaments as possible organized by IFA, and to meet as many people from our sport as possible. In Senec we saw how much stronger European countries are with the knowledge in our sport, and we want to follow in the footsteps of those countries. The Saiyan Club, from which the Union was formed, has been running tournaments for 6 years, both nationally and internationally. The president and founder of the Serbian Armwrestling Union is Milos Zeljic.

I would like to thank the friends who referred us to IFA, Fortunato Tomaselli, the President of the Italian Federation and the Bras De Fer Dieppe, first of all, Mr. Marian Chapla, who helped us enter IFA and thus enable us to raise sports in our country to a higher level. Also to the President of IFA, Anders Axklo and the Vice President, Anna Mazurenko, who welcomed us in IFA in record time and enabled us to participate in this World Cup in time. We met the leading people of IFA, we are delighted with them and very grateful that we are part of that team and that we will cooperate in the future.

We now have about 200 members in the Union, and there are more and more of us. And at the high school championships, about 350-400 juniors compete annually.

continued under the photos

PeSzy: Now about the team that fought in Senec, specifically. Who are they? How old are they? How long have they been training? Does the government help you? Do you have sponsors or do you use your own money?

Milos Zeljic: One by one: Milos Zeljic as referee; Goca Djurdjevic is 26 years old, category up to 57kg (2nd right hand and 3rd place left hand), She has been training for 1 year. Srdjan Ivanovic is 30 years old, 3rd place left hand, 3rd place right hand seniors up to 70 kg , He has been training for 2 years. Golic Aleksandar is 27 years old, 5th place, left hand and 5th place, right hand, senior up to 86 kg, He has been training for 4 years. Golub Lalic is 64 years old, master 5th place left hand and 6th place right hand, He has been in various sports for almost 50 years and has been training armwrstling for 2 years. Antonic Mladen is 27 years old, 6th place, left arm and 6th place, right arm up to 70 kg senior, He has been training for 3 years. Petrakovic Veljko is 19 years old 6th place right hand and 6th place left hand up to 105kg seniors and 7th place left hand, He has been training for 2 months.

We had very little time to get ready, we didn’t practice for months because of the Covid-19 situation, and we were allowed into IFA two months before the tournament in Senec. We were not sure if we would be admitted to IFA in time, so our participation in this tournament was uncertain. For these reasons, we could not lead the juniors who make up the bulk of our federation. A lot of our people couldn't get days off from work, I worked the second and third shifts on Thursday, I worked 16 hours that day without a break so that I could get out of the third shift on Friday morning and arrive for transport to Senec. Everyone who came to Senec works. Among those who failed to come there are businessmen, there are also high school students. We should have come in much larger numbers, but we did everything quickly and that is what we managed to organize. We are a new organization in our country and we have not yet had any help from the state authorities and the Ministry of Sports (which we hope to have), but we are greatly assisted by local authorities, the administration of the city of Sabac, the Sports Federation of Sabac and the European Center for Ecology. We have our sponsors who help us but we still pay a lot of money out of our own pocket. I believe that this is the case in every sport and organization that is on the rise. Armwrestling is still not a recognized sport in our country, but we are fighting to make it so and I believe we are on the right track.

PeSzy: Thank you for the interview and see you at the next competition!

Milos Zeljic: Greetings to readers and especially to Marian Czapla!

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