Building ‘Sports & Leadership’ with Antonija and Bojan

SFGC: Where are you from? Where have you lived? Where’s your favorite place you have traveled?

Antonija: I’m from Croatia, and have lived all over – Belgium, Switzerland, Romania, Turkey, France and Indonesia. I’ve had different experiences everywhere, which is great. I think my favorite place to visit is Shanghai. The city is so impressive. I felt, “lost in translation.” I loved the architecture, the city’s energy and the people. Can’t wait to go back.

Bojan: I’m also from Croatia. I’ve lived in France, Austria and now Singapore, which is far from home but definitely a nice place. It’s warm and I don’t mind skipping the winter. In Europe, my favorite place to visit is Rome. It just has a special energy. In Asia, I really like the Philippines, especially Boracay for the beach.

SFGC: You have both been internationally successful with volleyball. Are you able to recap a moment on the court that was particularly memorable to you? Where and why?

Antonija: The European Junior Championship in Zagreb when I was 17. It was memorable because it was at home and I was able to share the experience with my friends and family. Everyone was there watching.

Bojan: I’ve been playing volleyball since I was 10 and have been fortunate to have had many great experiences. The game has given me a lot. I’d say the best moment for me is hearing the Croatian national anthem. It’s a special feeling representing your country on the court. It gives me goose bumps.

SFGC: Now that you’ve moved from playing to coaching, what are some of the most important messages you communicate to aspiring young players?

Antonija: What I’m trying to teach is self-confidence. I believe it is very important in both life and in sports. Nobody should tell you what you can or cannot do. Achieve more than you think. Carrying traits with you beyond sports. Hard work always pays off.

Bojan: There’s no reason to not go 100%. You can make errors, that’s ok, it happens. But don’t leave your brain at home. If you’re not improving you’re wasting time, and I’m allergic to wasting time.

SFGC: Bojan, you spent three days in Cebu helping to develop Pandoo Foundation’s Sports & Leadership program, using volleyball. What was most exciting about this for you?

Bojan: I knew about Pandoo Foundation from friends in Singapore. I was honored to go. It’s a great organization and environment. The main purpose was to help find the best coaches for the up and coming volleyball program. The Philippines and Volleyball have a special bond – lots of elements of the game today were invented there, like 6v6, three touches and the spike. Filipinos have a natural talent and soft touch for volleyball. It was a great pleasure. And, of course, it was all for the kids... bingo!

SFGC: Global Citizen Crush!?

Antonija: I have two, because it’s too hard to choose one. The first is my mom. She’s always helping everyone she can. She’s cheerful and happy. It’s Incredible to me that someone can always be like this. The second is Colin Jackson. He’s my ‘sports global citizen crush.’ He
was a world champion in hurdles and then after his career he started working
for the Wings for Life World Run. I had the opportunity to hear one of his lectures in Croatia and I was impressed with his energy and love for what he’s doing. So much enthusiasm, and I look up to him for that.

Bojan: Goran Ivanišević– Tennis is my second favorite sport. Goran was a Wimbledon champion and I would love to be able to sit and talk with him. He’s always joking and having fun and he’s passionate about helping youth athletes.