Hvar Soccer from a Woman's Perspective
I have this aunt that lives in the town of Hvar and who I occasionally visit, because you have to respect the senior members of your family. Hvarians are unrelenting in that respect.
My aunt's old and the main topic of her conversations, or monologues to be more precise, is reminiscing about her glorious youth, which is now a thing of quite distant past. My aunt lives in Križna Luka, a peaceful neighborhood of Hvar, with a view of the west and a soccer field. Sometimes I simply wander off during her stories. There are two options at hand – to fix my gaze at the meditative sunsets or at the drama unfolding at the court.
Let's get some things clear right now: I am not an ACTUAL soccer enthusiast. I know an offside when I see one, but I can't describe it in words. And I don't even watch soccer unless I'm at my chatty aunt's in Hvar. Let me draw you a picture of Hvar soccer from this perspective.
So, there are ten soccer clubs on the island, and their names rarely match the names of places they come from, like Jelsa or Hvar.
Apart from these, you also have soccer clubs Jadran (Stari Grad), Sloga (Dol), Varbonj (Vrbanj), Svirče Youth Sports Club SOŠK (Svirče), Levonda (Velo Grablje), Vatra (Poljica), and Mladost (Sućuraj).
These clubs form the HVAR (FOR) SOCCER LEAGUE, and it's amateur soccer they play even though the players and the fans take it very seriously!
My personal favorite is SC Levonda ("Lavender") from Velo Grablje. You will hardly find a soccer club with a similar name. My only objection is of a couture nature and it regards their jerseys – green and white. With a name like that, the only logical choice would be purple since nomen est omen! I have to say that my personal preference should not be taken as any betting tip since I chose my favorite based on the cool club name and the artistic impression of the players’ movement in space.
Let’s take a look at the island soccer through numbers. According to the 2011 census, the entire island of Hvar has about 11,000 inhabitants. If we take into account that there are 10 clubs on the island, with each club gathering about 11 players, it turns out that 1 in 100 inhabitants of Hvar plays football. No players “on the bench”, no female and no junior soccer clubs – that’s a whole other blog topic.
It’s even stranger that a village like Velo Grablje, which has about 20 registered inhabitants, has a soccer club with 30 registered players. Out of which, let’s be honest, the majority live and work in Hvar, but they come from Velo Grablje.
Currently, the convincing leader of the board is SC Jelsa, followed by SC Jadran and SC Varbonj. Once you’re in Hvar and decide to check out a local soccer match, you’ll be able to do that in one of the five soccer fields on the island: in Hvar, Stari Grad, Sućuraj, Vrbanj, and Jelsa. Each of these fields has its specific qualities, so I’m just going to mention that the field in Stari Grad is slightly slanted. It may not be according to UEFA standards, but we can regard it as the uniqueness of the For League.
When you do a web search for any term related to Hvar soccer, you’ll see almost an equal number of photos of food and celebration and photos from the matches. What’s the deal with that? I find that island soccer has become an umbrella term that requires its participants to get to know each other and hang out with one another, to celebrate important life events (like the birth of children) as they do with their families – island soccer has become an element of social cohesion. If the global context of “soccer” implies money, doping controls, scandals, rivalry, and transfers, "Hvar soccer" clearly evokes socializing, cooperation, team, friendship, and fun. Hvar soccer has a positive context.
As far as the game is concerned, the guys aren’t as fast as Gareth Bale and I don’t think they would be Guardiola’s or Mourinho’s first choice, and I won’t even mention tactics because I wouldn’t know one if I saw one. But from what I can see, the players are quite happy when they score, and that’s what makes them similar to global soccer – guys pulling jerseys over their heads, shouting, man-hugging – all that soccer thrill. On the other hand, their fans get really mad if the referee doesn’t penalize the foul they saw and he didn’t, shouting insults to the ref, whistling, etc.
If you do choose to see a match in the For League, it may not be the most exciting 90 minutes of your lives, but there’s a possibility of excitement, and it’s quite safe to say you’ll have a laugh and spend time in fresh air, which is always good. So if you’re a fan of the most important secondary thing in the world and planning a vacation on Hvar – take the ball with you and walk over to the nearby fields; you just might meet a fellow local lover of the game or the future Ronaldinho…
*Author - Ela Dujmovic
*Translator - Nevena Erak Camaj
*Photo Credit - Aleksandar Topalovic Photography