Apart from the Croatian team winning the game against Turkey at the opening of the European Football Championship at the Parc des Princes in Paris this match will be remembered for one more important detail – for the first time in the history of the Croatian national football team a woman was sitting on the bench among the Croatian footballers.
Iva Olivari the team manager of the Croatian national team started working for the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) in 1992 when the team was in the making after the Croatian War of Independence. At first Olivari worked in the international department of HNS. When Davor Suker, the former Croatian footballer, took over the presidency of HNS in 2012 she made a step up and became the team manager of the Croatian national football team. She was a part of the national team in 2014 in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil but instead of being on the bench she was in stands.
Iva Olivari is a firm favourite among the Croatian football players. She performs logistical functions from organizing trips to solving all kinds of personal problems of the players.
‘’The guys are great, I love them very much and they respect me. With previous football generations I had a brother and sister relationship because we were the same age. But these youngsters refer to me as “Aunt Iva,” she smiled.
Olivari has been in sports from her young days. At the age of 14 she was the women’s tennis champion in Croatia and in the former Balkan country of Yugoslavia. In her sports career she had noticeable international results, for example, on one of the tournaments in Germany she beat Steffi Graf the former German world no. 1 professional tennis player.
''People say that I had a talent but after I experienced a bad wrist injury I stopped playing tennis. If someone had told me that I would end up in football, I would have never believed it,” commented Olivari.
It is said that a woman on board is bad luck but so far this woman has brought nothing but good luck to the Croatian football team. Let's hope that Olivari will continue to be a lucky charm for Croatia in the further stages of the EURO 2016.