A Town Of The Friendship
With the sun getting his hat on, it seemed like the whole town had come out to play or be involved in the festival. “I want Foca to become a town of friendship and of sport,” declared the town’s mayor, Zdravko Krsmanovic, after patiently answering questions from TV reporters from across the region. “It doesn’t matter who wins. The important thing is that young people from other countries can take part. We want to send a message that Foca is an open town, and because of the tradition here we can do it through football.”
Under the 1995 Dayton Agreement, Foca became part of the Serb Republika Srpska. Most of the Muslims, who had previously made up the majority of the town’s 40,000 inhabitants, moved to the nearby town of Gorazde. Today, curfews no longer exist but once night falls it is still extremely rare to see Muslim youths in Foca or Serb children in Gorazde.
Despite some initial hesitation, once the ball began to roll, curiosity got the better of the youngsters. In parks, outside coffee bars and in the hotels where many were staying together, addresses were swapped, numbers noted and e-mails exchanged. By the following day, post-tournament matches had sprung up around Foca’s six bridges and two rivers with promises of renewed meetings. “They are smiling again,” said sports teacher Jelena Dostic. “It is just so sweet to see the children having fun and being happy.”