Bosnia Herzegovina’s epic journey to the European Games Esports Championships
Goran Durakovic, Secretary General, Esport Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, drove for 17 long hours to get his Bosnia Herzegovina team to the European Games Esports Championships in Katowice, Poland.
“I went five hours from my home in Mostar, to pick up our player Aldin Hamidovic, and his coach, in their city of Tuzla, and then 12 hours to Poland, through Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic,” he said. “It was tiring, but we don’t care. We are happy to be here, to be part of this family. That is way more important.”
Durakovic, 45, was instrumental in forming his country’s federation. “I’ve been a gamer since I was four, I had every console, it is my life,” he said. “I got involved in the esports team through my job as a graphic designer in Mostar.
“We put together the esports association along with another couple of centers in Bosnia Herzegovina because we love gaming and want to compete. We wanted to make our kids proud, to give them the chance to compete at a higher level.”
The Global Esports Federation’s global tournaments have made that ambition a reality. “In the past, we only got to watch gaming tournaments on TV. Now we are able to take part, thanks to the GEF, which is just fantastic.
“We are making dreams come true, right here. Our player and coach are super proud to be here, and I am super proud too. It is a tremendous honor for us.
“We are one of the poorest countries in Europe. We can’t offer our players money. But tournaments like the #EGE23 offer hope. Our players now love to go to our national championships, because they know if they win, they can go to Istanbul, to Katowice, to Riyadh. It makes it competitive. It makes it real. And travel expands the mind.”
Durakovic is living, breathing proof of the #worldconnected philosophy in action. “On the way home, we will get up at 4am, and drop off a member of the Serbian team on the way back,” he said.
“We are great friends with the Serbian team and our neighbors from Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania. We supported Serbia even when they knocked our athlete out.
“There is a lot of history between our nations – 30 years ago, we were at war. But we must leave the past behind us, and look towards friendship.
“Events like this show national pride. We are proud to be from our country, but we are friends with everyone and support everyone.
“This is how we move forward together. Events like this can help solve problems and take away barriers and borders, rather than the other way round.”
Friendships that last a lifetime have been formed. “It’s so great being here, the #worldconnected feeling is real.
“If GEF didn’t organize this, we wouldn’t make connections. We can contact these other players, arrange matches, continue friendships, and visit each other. If I go to Spain they will welcome me, and I will do the same. It is a lot more than gaming. It is about friendship and love.”
It may be a long road home, but as we wrapped #EGE23, that is all that matters.