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Dejan Dokic's Fundraiser:

Bridging ethnic divides through sport

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Dejan Dokic

THE STORY:

Since its inception in 1921, the Wrestling Club Željeznicar (a.k.a Željo) has produced generations of wrestlers, some of whom were regarded as one of the most talented by the wrestling establishment in former Yugoslavia. Most notably, in 1980’s , Željo's wrestlers won a total of 34 medals competing in national championships and international tournaments, receiving many praises for the club’s program and its successes. Unfortunately, the training facility including all the equipment worth more than $40,000 was lost to fire during the first days of the 1992-1995 civil war forcing management to close its doors.

After a near 15 years hiatus, a few remaining members of the 1980’s team decided to revive the club. With the idea to continue to use wrestling as a means for youth development and as a vehicle for fostering inter-cultural understanding and tolerance among ethnically divided young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the club’s board members attracted a small group of sport enthusiasts willing to provide seed funding to re-open the club. While this support was essential to the club's revival, it was not nearly enough to get the club’s operations off the ground. The annual costs associated with facility rental and the acquisition of training equipment exceeds the club’s modest annual budget, making it more difficult to attract and retain new members and practice in conditions that are safe and adequate. Cognizant of the financial challenges, the entire coaching team decided to donate their time in the first year of operation.

Earlier this year, Sarajevo hosted the 2010 European Junior Wrestling Championship, attracting more than 900 participants from 39 countries. The event was a huge success and proved that the sport still remains the most powerful force in bringing people together regardless of their race, religion or background. Its successful organization helped reinvigorate the interest of the area’s youth in wrestling. However, the existing training facility is too small and unaccommodating to respond to better than expected enrollment demand lacking not only an extra wrestling mat and but weight lifts and throwing dummies. New members often do not have financial resources to buy wrestling shoes and head gear, which protects them from possible injuries.

Your contribution will give a boost to the club's endeavors to enroll new members and provide basic equipment.

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