It isn’t often that I am lost for words, but the welcome the World Cup heroes received was truly inspiring. The power of football, especially in this part of the world, is fascinating. More people welcomed Modric and his team home than celebrated Croatia becoming a free and independent country.
In unites young and old, all social backgrounds, religions and makes friends from enemies. This squad have done more to bring Croatia together than any other event in the short history of Croatia. Football will not save Croatia but it will act as a motivating force that will show that there is a bright future.
If this isn’t a prime example of what can be done with hard work, passion, belief and utter determination then I really don’t know what is!
This summer, these 30 days of the tournament, have broadcast Croatia as a world power, as a country with a heart much bigger than the geographical size of the country. when you look at the clear facts Croatia is the 124th country in the world in terms of size. But for the past weeks it has been as big as a continent. And for me one of the most important factors was that the team was led by a coach who showed compassion, dignity with a capital D and a sense of calmness that is not normally known in these parts. I lower my hat to Mr. Dalic, he is truly a breath of fresh air. He even talked about the mistakes that he had made. This type of leadership is exactly what the country needs.
So now we are riding on the crest of a wave of positivity and optimism. How can we keep this wave rolling forward? Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power, once said the American philosopher William James. Just imagine if we had the same attributes that “vatreni” have shown in other walks of life. There would be no end to our success.
These magical red and white squares that have dominated our TV screens for the past month could, no should, be branded as a symbol for the best that Croatia offers. Why not relabel our leading products with the colourful squares…the whole world knows them already….it would make perfect marketing sense.
Where would we be if we had just eleven politicians of the same calibre as our football team? Croatia is a small country, it will always be a small country, but it has a heart and soul that far outweighs its size. This positive energy, if channelled in the right direction, can move mountains! It has moved almost half a million people onto the streets of the capital. It can be a wind of change. A source of inspiration. To just leave this summer as a fond memory would be a cardinal mistake. It unquestionably shows that if you put the right people in the right position and give them the support and tools to do the job that they will do it to a world class level.
Croatia has shown the world in the best possible way that it can do anything if it puts its mind to it. Our only limitations are limitations we put on ourselves. And the outpouring of patriotism has been, for the most part, just that patriotism and not nationalism. For a month we have forgotten about the cancer of corruption, the frustration of bureaucracy, the conflict of interests, the exodus of young people, the unrequired multiple layers of government, the ineffective legal system. All of our problems have been swept under the carpet whilst we have been fascinated watching a ball being kicked around a football pitch.
Whilst some say it’s sad that the sport has distracted us from our problems I believe that it has somehow managed to show us there is another way, there is hope. It was much more than football, than sport. Football, more than any other sport if a reflection of a society. Brazil plays as if they are dancing the samba, German are efficient and hardworking, the Italians are artistic and temperamental, Iceland full of fighting spirit, and now Croatia has had the opportunity to highlight its best characteristics in front of half of the entire population of the world.
Thanks to Dalic we didn’t show arrogance, thanks to the team we showed absolute belief, thanks to the supporters we showed pride and loyalty and thanks to Kolinda we showed our hearts. This has been a monumental summer for Croatia. Now carpe diem!