Veterans, children and young people train badminton in Doboj, and people with developmental disabilities are also included

Badminton club “Sertini” Doboj became a renowned sports team in a short time

Badminton club “Sertini” Doboj was founded less than three years ago, and the ‘main culprit’ is Dario Milačak, who wanted to play non-contact sports recreationally, but not for football. He was researching what kind of recreational sport it could be, whether it was table tennis or something similar, so posts about badminton started appearing on his social networks. “By chance, I found out that the badminton club has been operating in Banja Luka for 18 years, and the president of the club is Branislav Srdić, the founder of the badminton scene in our country and the founder of the Badminton Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One Saturday I headed to Banja Luka, trained with Srdić and decided to register a club in a month. That’s how it was,” Dario Milačak, one of the club’s founders, revealed to us, including his wife Aleksandra, brother Vuk and mother Slavojka. And if you’re wondering what Sertini means, the answer is that it’s a combination of the initials of his children Sergej and Tina. Milačak, an economist by profession and manager of social networks, is also a regional director in a bank, has his own private company as a supplementary activity, is the head of a club, runs a portal, but everything, he claims, is connected in some way. At the very beginning, Milačak recalls, they had nothing, but they received some equipment from the Badminton Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina – 16 rackets, four nets and four packages of balls. Very quickly, thanks to the understanding of the local community and the director of the Medical School in Doboj, they got the use of the sports hall with the appropriate fee prescribed, they started with three weekly training sessions, and now they have a total of seven sessions, which is quite enough for the club members. “At the school, we first of all support our students, and the founder of the badminton club, Dario Milačak, is our former student who always contributes to the work of the school. That’s why we also supported the club, because it’s something new in our city, and it also brings together our students,” Milena Damjanović, director of the Medical School, told us.     

Both children and young people are interested in badminton

“Thanks to digital marketing, we reached participants, at first we were based on veterans, and everything under the motto – come for yourself! Because badminton is a special story that moves your mind and body, and badminton is one of the most dynamic sports. In just one month of training, you can achieve incredible results when it comes to your strength, fitness, and weight. You will simply be happier! At the beginning of our work, our members were mostly over 30 years old, and now we have all categories – school children and children with developmental difficulties, young men and women, veterans, and more than 50% are women. All the children came on their own initiative, and we simply embraced them. In the beginning, we didn’t even have an educated coaching staff, so coaches from Banja Luka came to us, for which we are infinitely grateful. We went step by step”, emphasized Dario Milačak. Dušica Klopić’s family always played badminton on outings, and family tournaments were also organized. And quite by chance she heard that Dario Milačak was founding a badminton club in Doboj. “Regardless of my age, that sports spirit has always been present in me, I used to train handball and volleyball. And when, after work and training, success comes, it is a great satisfaction. In the ADA League season 2022/2023. I won gold in category D, and in total I have won 7 medals so far. We won third place with my colleague Maja at the tournament in Vinkovci, and we won first place with my colleague Boris,” Dušica told us and added. “The club is really a beautiful place, and the atmosphere is amazing! I invite everyone to join us, because believe me, memories are made here that will last forever”.

At the training session, we also spoke with primary school students Dušan Račić and Nikola Simišić. “Badminton is a really fun sport for me, and I used to play it with my friends in front of the building. I’ve only been training for two months, I haven’t participated in any competitions so far, but I can’t wait”, Dušan told us and invited all the boys and girls from Doboj to become members of the badminton club. “I left basketball after six years of coaching and chose badminton. I’m very satisfied with our coaches, they train and teach us really well, especially Macak, he’s the best,” Nikola told us, and the fact that he came to training an hour early shows how much he loves badminton.

Goran Ćućić has been with the “Sertini” club since the first days of its foundation. “In the club, most of us are generationally close and we function very well. For those of us who are, so to speak, older, this kind of sport without physical contact and good cardio training really come in handy. I am also looking forward to the future competitions in which I will participate”, Goran told us.

In the local community, they showed how much they can do on their own

We were also interested in how Dobojlije reacted to the establishment of a badminton club. “The perception of badminton as we initially understood it – ‘barbecue badminton’ is completely different from what we play now. There are rules, dynamics, cardio is a sport, we are all amateurs, but we have created a base of four or five people who, so to speak, lead our story. We are all amateurs, and as for the local community and support, we didn’t even ask for it in the beginning. After our successes, we turned to the local community that supported our competitions in the ADA league. First, we wanted to show how much we can do on our own, unlike others, and there are those in every local community, who ask for something non-stop, but don’t give anything,” added Milačak.    

Participation in the ADA Badminton League

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a badminton scene, not so expressive, but in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Široki Brijeg and Doboj there are clubs or recreational players who like this sport. “They recently registered a club in Široki Brijeg, but they have excellent recreational players, in Sarajevo we have our friends – Ilja and Bekim”, Milačak told us and explained the way of competition in the ADA League, a recreational sports league organized in the Alps-Danube area. Adria. “The ADA league, in accordance with the current calendar, is held in Opatija, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Varaždin, Sarajevo, Zagreb and Breže. The league gathers badminton players from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as individuals from many other countries, but very often players from other countries also join. The competition is held in 4 strong groups (A-former competitors and better recreational players, B advanced recreational players, C-weaker recreational players and D-beginners) in singles and doubles categories for women and men, and for mixed pairs. Dušica Klopić won first place in category D after seven rounds, I was third in my category, i.e. in the overall ranking. My colleague Zoran Marić and I won gold in Sarajevo, in a duel against a couple from Germany. I am currently in the C category. In addition to the ADA League, we also visit invitational tournaments. We responded to the invitation from Vinkovci, the team had 20 members and achieved excellent results”, explained Dario and emphasized that a lot of attention is paid to education and certification, and together with Saša Klopić he also attended parabadminton training in Sardinia.

USAID also helped the “Badminton for Inclusion” project

“The topic of the seminar organized by the World Badminton Federation was the training of parabadminton coaches as well as the training of administrators who should deal with the organization of parabadminton competitions in their federations. We must emphasize that Dušica, Saša and I are in the final phase of training in Novi Sad to become an operational badminton coach. In addition to working with children with developmental disabilities, parabadminton as a Paralympic sport requires full commitment, finances, and trained coaches in order to eventually create a good parabadminton player who could participate in the Paralympics in eight to ten years, and that requires serious and dedicated work. “said Saša Klopić, who passed the exam for parabadminton coaches with Milačka. “We have the so-called regular badminton, badminton as an Olympic sport, we also have equipment for air badminton, for almost a year we worked with children with developmental difficulties through the project ‘Badminton for Inclusion’ of the Tuzla Community Foundation and USAID. Through the project, we do full inclusion, our members as volunteers transfer their knowledge to children with developmental difficulties. Also, licensed trainers from Banja Luka – the Kočić family, Miroslav, Dijana and Marko, as well as Branislav Srdić – are involved in the project. Our slogan was ‘There is no difference’ because we wanted these children to feel part of us, and they did. I was especially proud when the father of a child with difficulties from the autistic spectrum told me that, thanks to badminton, his son started to communicate more, he was free to hug himself. That is just one of the good sides of this project,” Milačak emphasized with pride.

The long-term goal, emphasizes Milačak, is to be self-sustaining in the true sense of the word. “We did something that did not exist in this region, we integrated people of different genders and ages, from school age to pensioners, we created a project in front of the Badminton Association of BiH for parabadminton, and we want to bring back the BiH National Championship. We achieved excellent cooperation with the Embassy of China in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the deputy ambassador Miao Dake visited us. In addition to playing friendly matches, we had the opportunity to exchange experiences and learn about badminton tradition and culture in China. This visit gave us the opportunity to make new friends and broaden our horizons. And our biggest wish is for one of our children to progress so much in this sport and be a participant in the Olympics”, Dario Milačak, president of the Badminton Club “Sertini” Doboj, told us.

Written by: Nejra Bradarić

This story was written thanks to the generous support of the American people through the “Local Works” program of the United States Agency for International Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (USAID). The content of the story is solely the responsibility of the author and the “Network for Building Peace”. The views expressed in the story do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.